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Null Subjects at the Syntax-Pragmatics Interface: Evidence from Spanish Interlanguage of Greek Speakers
Panagiota Margaza and Aurora Bel
88-97 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


The aim of this paper is to examine the acquisition of the Null Subject Parameter (Chomsky 1981) in Spanish Interlanguage of Greek speakers and to investigate the syntactic and pragmatic use of null subjects at the syntax-pragmatics interface (Montrul, 2004; Serratrice, Sorace & Paoli, 2004; Sorace, 2003, 2004). There has been a great deal of research carried out on this phenomenon within the field of SLA. In most cases, the L1 differs from the L2 with respect to [+/- null subject] value. In this study the authors examine two [+null subject] languages that adopt the same parametric value: Greek and Spanish. In fact, there are no previous studies concerned with this combination of languages. In order to address the research questions two experimental groups (10 intermediate and 9 advanced learners of Spanish) and 10 native speakers answered a questionnaire and completed two tasks: a) a cloze task and b) a written production task. Results indicate that the Greek students are able to produce null subjects in L2 Spanish. It is possible that there is the influence of the L1 in the syntactic domain of grammatical knowledge. However, the intermediate students misuse pronominal subjects in optional contexts and do not show command of the pragmatic distribution of subjects in Spanish. Competence level affects the production of subjects. Intermediate learners seem not to transfer the pragmatic knowledge from their L1. It is likely that transfer plays a role in syntax but not in all pragmatic contexts. This hypothesis is also confirmed in the case of free inversion of the subject.

Published in

Proceedings of the 8th Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition Conference (GASLA 2006): The Banff Conference
edited by Mary Grantham O'Brien, Christine Shea, and John Archibald
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Printed edition: $220.00