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Bookmark and Share Paper 2598

Derivational Complexity Effects in L2 Acquisition
Nikolay Slavkov
227-240 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This research addresses the question of whether constructions with long-distance (LD) wh- movement in L2 English pose a higher degree of acquisition difficulty than constructions with lower derivational and processing complexity. Jakubowicz and Strik (2008) and Jakubowicz (2004; 2005) advance the Derivational Complexity Hypothesis (DCH) arguing that in child L1 acquisition long-distance wh- movement is more complex than short movement, and moving more than one constituent is more complex than moving just one. The goal of the current study is to extend the testing of the Derivational Complexity Hypothesis to L2 acquisition data. The proposal is that in order to overcome the computational burden of long-distance wh- movement, L2 learners at the early stages of acquisition resort to a variety of semantically and pragmatically near-equivalent utterances, which are called here avoidance strategies. Avoidance structures are often similar in length to their long-distance counterparts but involve only short wh- movement or lack of wh- movement altogether (i.e. a simpler derivation).

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