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Specificity Effects in L2 Determiner Acquisition: UG or Pragmatic Egocentrism?
Viviane Deprez, Petra Sleeman, and Hakima Guella
27-36 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


Ionin et al. (2004) report that article use by L2 learners of English from L1 articleless languages (Russian, Korean) fluctuates between specificity and definiteness, and argue that this fluctuation reflects access to a UG-based semantic parameter. This hypothesis is questioned with results on the acquisition of determiners by learners of L2 French with definiteness based L1 (Arabic and Dutch). The results show that Arabic and Dutch L2 beginners acquire French articles with a specificity bias fully comparable to L2 learners with articleless L1. The parametric account fails to explain why UG access prevails over transfer in these cases. It is argued that a specificity bias is, in contrast, expected under Maratsos' (1974, 1976) account, in which comparable article errors in child L1 reflect speaker-egocentricity. Relevant overcoming strategies are affected in L2 situations. As in Ko et al. (2010), L1 and L2 article misuse have a common source, but it is pragmatically based.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 4th Conference on Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition North America (GALANA 2010)
edited by Mihaela Pirvulescu, María Cristina Cuervo, Ana T. Pérez-Leroux, Jeffrey Steele, and Nelleke Strik
Table of contents
Printed edition: $320.00