Null objects in Basque Spanish and the issue of language dominance
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Referential null objects are attested in several varieties of Spanish that are in contact with other languages. Some of them coexist with languages with rich agreement system, e.g., Spanish in contact with Quechua and Basque (cf., e.g., Landa 1995; Franco 1993; Sánchez 1998). The availability of such null objects is thought to be due to some type of transfer from the contact language. As such, bilingualism and language dominance are relevant in determining whether or not a speaker drops objects. One objective of this work is to examine the Spanish language forms of Basque-Spanish speakers of disparate levels of Spanish and Basque abilities, with the aim of determining the role of dominance in the occurrence of null objects. Results obtained from naturalistic data contradict previous claims on dominance. Statistical analysis concludes that dominance is not a factor that determines the occurrence of null objects. Furthermore, closer analysis of the data suggests that these findings challenge previous hypotheses regarding the semantic nature that licenses null objects. Data conflicts with claims on animacy being the feature that allows object drop demonstrating that the picture is less clear than suggested in earlier proposals.