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On the (un)-ambiguity of adjectival modification in Spanish determiner phrases: informing debates on the mental representations of L2 syntax.

Rothman, J., Judy, T., Guijarro Fuentes, P. and Pires, A. (2010) On the (un)-ambiguity of adjectival modification in Spanish determiner phrases: informing debates on the mental representations of L2 syntax. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 32 (1). pp. 47-77. ISSN 1470-1545

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1017/S0272263109990258

Abstract/Summary

This study contributes to a central debate within contemporary generative second language (L2) theorizing: the extent to which adult learners are (un)able to acquire new functional features that result in a L2 grammar that is mentally structured like the native target (see White, 2003). The adult acquisition of L2 nominal phi-features is explored, with focus on the syntactic and semantic reflexes in the related domain of adjective placement in two experimental groups: English-speaking intermediate (n = 21) and advanced (n = 24) learners of Spanish, as compared to a native-speaker control group (n = 15). Results show that, on some of the tasks, the intermediate L2 learners appear to have acquired the syntactic properties of the Spanish determiner phrase but, on other tasks, to show some delay with the semantic reflexes of prenominal and postnominal adjectives. Crucially, however, our data demonstrate full convergence by all advanced learners and thus provide evidence in contra the predictions of representational deficit accounts (e.g., Hawkins & Chan, 1997; Hawkins & Franceschina, 2004; Hawkins & Hattori, 2006).

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:33081
Publisher:Cambridge University Press

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