Previous research has demonstrated that verbal aspect is among the grammatical properties severely affected by L1 attrition (Polinsky 1996, 2009, Pereltsvaig 2002, 2004). According to Pereltsvaig (2004, 2005), attriters' problems with verbal aspect result from syntactic restructuring. The findings reported in this paper, however, show that 'pure' L1 attrition -- attrition of a fully acquired and stabilized grammatical system -- only affects lexical but not morphosyntactic properties related to aspect. Thus, Russian attriters who have switched to English as their dominant language after puberty struggle with lexical properties related to Russian aspect, while maintaining native-like knowledge of morphosyntax. The negligible amount of morphosyntactic errors that they make can be attributed to transfer from their dominant English. It is argued that this transfer does not trigger restructuring. The results of the present study support Montrul's (2008) view on L1 attrition whereby adult attriters are believed to forget their native language rather than use a grammatical system divergent from the one they previously had.
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
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