The present study focuses on the acquisition of (a)telicity by English native speakers learning Japanese as a second language. In particular, the study focuses on how learners of Japanese interpret bare nouns such as kado 'card' that obligatorily display count noun morphosyntax in English. In Japanese, a bare noun such as kado is ambiguous with respect to number and therefore a verb phrase such as kado-o kakimashita 'wrote card' can be interpreted as either telic wrote the cards or atelic wrote cards depending on the particular context. Experimental evidence indicates that the interpretation of a VP such as kado-o kakimashita presents difficulty to learners of Japanese. It is proposed that the difficulty stems from the fact that there is no overt morphosyntax in Japanese that serves to cue the interpretation. In the absence of morphosyntactic evidence and in the presence of L1/L2 differences, the learners of Japanese confront a difficult learnability scenario.
Proceedings of the 2nd Conference on Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition North America (GALANA)
edited by Alyona Belikova, Luisa Meroni, and Mari Umeda
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