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Can we predict when “dying” will be difficult?: Progressive achievements in L2 English

Gabriele, A., Maekawa, J. and Aleman Banon, J. (2008) Can we predict when “dying” will be difficult?: Progressive achievements in L2 English. In: 33rd Boston University Conference on Language Development, October 31st-November 2nd 2008, Boston University (Boston, MA), pp. 175-186.

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Abstract/Summary

A large body of research has focused on the observation that second language (L2) learners are limited in their production of temporal and aspectual forms. For example, in L2 English, it has been shown learners use progressive marking with activity verbs and only rarely extend the form to telic verb phrases such as accomplishments or achievements (Bardovi-Harlig and Reynolds, 1995; Bardovi-Harlig, 2000; Robison, 1995). Shirai and Andersen (1995) proposed that activities represent the prototype for the category of progressive aspect and learners generally acquire the prototype first. However, very little research has focused explicitly on advanced learners to see if they eventually extend beyond the prototype. In addition, properties of the native language have not systematically been taken into account. Achievements such as "die" are especially interesting in that they interact differently with markers of progressive aspect across languages. The present study investigated the acquisition of progressive achievements in English by native speakers of Chinese and Korean in order to examine whether there is evidence of universal difficulty, as would be predicted by the prototype account, or whether similarity between the L1 and L2 (as in the case of English and Korean) can facilitate acquisition, as would be predicted by transfer. Our results suggest that the properties of the native language play an important role, supporting the transfer account. However, neither L1 group performs at the level of native speakers. We argue that the acquisition of aspect is influenced by both the properties of the native language and the semantic and pragmatic complexity of the target computation.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Refereed:No
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Clinical Language Sciences
ID Code:36868

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