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Bookmark and Share Paper 1041

Putting the Pieces Together: Second Language Learning of Null Subjects, Inversion, and That-trace
Larry LaFond
168-175 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This paper reports on a cross-sectional study of adult L1 English speakers learning Spanish as a second language. It employs a particular learning algorithm, the Constraint Demotion Algorithm of Tesar and Smolensky (2000), to provide an account of the developmental stages learners undergo in their acquisition of three grammatical properties: null subjects, inversion, and that-trace. This paper synthesizes previous research on those individual grammatical properties conducted within an Optimality Theoretic framework. It argues that a unified analysis is both possible and supports the notion of recursive stages of constraint demotion. A key conclusion from the study is that the acquisition of Spanish by native speakers of English involves a reranking of universal syntactic and discoursal constraints in these languages.

Published in

Proceedings of the 6th Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition Conference (GASLA 2002): L2 Links
edited by Juana M. Liceras, Helmut Zobl, and Helen Goodluck
Table of contents
Printed edition: $340.00