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Development of Multiple Interface Conditions in Adult L2 Acquisition of Chinese shì Cleft Construction
Ziyin Mai
106-116 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This paper reports and discusses the findings of an empirical study investigating three interface properties of the Chinese cleft construction in English speakers' L2 Chinese grammars. Through a web-based experiment comprised of a proficiency test, a syntax screening procedure and experimental tasks including acceptability judgement and sentence felicity ranking, this study collected linguistic judgements from 91 participants (15 native speakers of Mandarin Chinese and 76 adult English-speaking L2 learners of Chinese). The results suggest that the L2 learners show target-like sensitivity to the telicity condition and the discourse condition at different stages of L2 acquisition, with the former acquired before the latter, which concurs with the acquisition sequence in Slabakova et al. (2012) and lends support to the 'gradient' metaphor in the current version of the Interface Hypothesis (Sorace 2011). Nonetheless, the L2 learners display uniform insensitivity to violations of a third interface condition which necessarily requires the integration of syntactic, semantic and general world knowledge. Following the Feature Reassembly Hypothesis (Lardiere 2009), this paper proposes that in adult L2 acquisition of interface properties, the (un)availability of similar feature bundles in the learners' L1 plays an important role in accounting for the (un)successful acquisition of these properties.

Published in

Proceedings of the 12th Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition Conference (GASLA 2013)
edited by Jennifer Cabrelli Amaro, Tiffany Judy, and Diego Pascual y Cabo
Table of contents
Printed edition: $290.00