Israeli Russian: Case morphology in a bilingual context

Natalia Meir, Marina Avramenko, Tatiana Verkhovtceva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The current study investigates case morphology development in a bilingual context. It is aimed at investigating potential mechanisms driving divergences in heritage language grammars as compared to the “baseline monolingual standards.” For the purposes of the study, 95 bilingual and monolingual children and adults were compared. Bilinguals residing in Israel acquired Russian from birth, while the age of onset of Hebrew varied. The participants completed a production task eliciting accusative case inflections. Both child and adult heritage speakers of Russian with early age of onset of Hebrew (before the age of 5) showed divergences in the production of the accusative case inflections as compared to monolingual Russian-speaking controls (adult and child), whereas grammars of Israeli heritage Russian speakers with later ages of onset of Hebrew, after the age of 5, were found to be intact. On the basis of Russian in contact with Hebrew, the study discusses how heritage language grammars differ from the baseline grammars of monolingual speakers and which mechanisms are associated with heritage language ultimate attainment. The effects of the age of onset and cross-linguistic influence from the dominant societal language are discussed as potential factors affecting the acquisition / maintenance of linguistic phenomena in heritage language grammars.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)886-907
Number of pages22
JournalRussian Journal of Linguistics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Natalia Meir, Marina Avramenko, Tatiana Verkhovtceva, 2021.


The current study is part of a larger project, funded by the Israel Science Foundation (ISF: 552/21), awarded to Natalia Meir, aimed at investigating characteristics of Israeli and American Russian among children and adults. The study was approved by the review board of Bar-Ilan University. Informed written consent was obtained prior to participation for adult participants. For children, informed parental consent was secured as well as child ascent before testing. Each participant was tested individually via Zoom. The task was presented via a PowerPoint presentation. The experimenter gave oral instructions. Four warm-up items were administered to familiarize the participants with the task, and they were not included into the analysis. Participants' responses were audio-recorded for off-line analysis.

FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation552/21


    • Accusative case
    • Case morphology
    • Heritage language
    • Israel
    • The Russian language


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