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The Light Flashed until Dawn: The L2 Acquisition of the Semantic Mappings of Spanish Tenses and Problems of S-Selection and Compositionality
Ana T. Pérez-Leroux, Monika Majlanova, and Jeannette Sánchez-Naranjo
227-237 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This paper argues for approaches to the acquisition of tense and aspect based on the semantic selectional properties of tense heads, rather than on the morphosyntactic structure of the verbal paradigms. A combined grammaticality judgment task and translation study of Spanish past tense sentences with preterite and imperfect showed that Spanish L2 speakers from an English background had specific difficulties with aspectual coercion cases. In those contexts, a duration adverbial forces an iterative reading of a punctual event, a context that calls for the preterite in Spanish la luz se encendió hasta el amanecer 'the light flashed until dawn'. We argue that the evidence indicates that learners can coerce iterative readings, and suggests that the errors arise from difficulty in tense selection in semantically complex environments.

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