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L3 syntactic transfer selectivity and typological determinacy: the typological primacy model

Rothman, J. (2011) L3 syntactic transfer selectivity and typological determinacy: the typological primacy model. Second Language Research, 27 (1). pp. 107-217. ISSN 1477-0326

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1177/0267658310386439

Abstract/Summary

The present article addresses the following question: what variables condition syntactic transfer? Evidence is provided in support of the position that third language (L3) transfer is selective, whereby, at least under certain conditions, it is driven by the typological proximity of the target L3 measured against the other previously acquired linguistic systems (cf. Rothman and Cabrelli Amaro, 2007, 2010; Rothman, 2010; Montrul et al., 2011). To show this, we compare data in the domain of adjectival interpretation between successful first language (L1) Italian learners of English as a second language (L2) at the low to intermediate proficiency level of L3 Spanish, and successful L1 English learners of L2 Spanish at the same levels for L3 Brazilian Portuguese. The data show that, irrespective of the L1 or the L2, these L3 learners demonstrate target knowledge of subtle adjectival semantic nuances obtained via noun-raising, which English lacks and the other languages share. We maintain that such knowledge is transferred to the L3 from Italian (L1) and Spanish (L2) respectively in light of important differences between the L3 learners herein compared to what is known of the L2 Spanish performance of L1 English speakers at the same level of proficiency (see, for example, Judy et al., 2008; Rothman et al., 2010). While the present data are consistent with Flynn et al.’s (2004) Cumulative Enhancement Model, we discuss why a coupling of these data with evidence from other recent L3 studies suggests necessary modifications to this model, offering in its stead the Typological Primacy Model (TPM) for multilingual transfer.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Clinical Language Sciences
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Language and Cognition
ID Code:33063
Publisher:Sage

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