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Semantic and Morphological Reflexes of Functional Categories: The Case of Telicity Marking in L2 Russian
Roumyana Slabakova
284-297 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


Two major mechanisms of encoding telicity across languages are: either marking the object as exhaustively countable or measurable; or utilizing a specific prefix on the verbal form. English uses the first mechanism predominantly, while Russian utilizes the second. The learning task of an English speaker acquiring Russian, then, is two-fold: to learn each individual verb with its subset of perfective prefixes, and to acquire the fact that all prefixed verbs denote telic events. Fifty-eight English-speaking learners of Russian as well as 41 controls took an on-line test of semantic interpretation, as well as a cloze test, which tested lexical knowledge of verbs and lexical knowledge of perfective prefixes. Results indicate that both intermediate and advanced learners are highly accurate in interpreting Russian telicity marking. At the same time, there is a significant gap in their lexical knowledge of prefixes versus verbs in general. It is argued that the difficulty in acquiring Russian aspect lies in learning the lexical items signaling telicity, but crucially NOT in learning the grammatical mechanism for telicity marking.

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