Mood-Determined Specificity in L2 Spanish: Evidence from L1 Japanese and English Speakers
140-147 (complete paper
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In English, secretary in 'I am looking for a secretary who has red hair' is ambiguously specific (her name is Sue, and I thought I'd find her here) or non-specific (any secretary with red hair will do). In Spanish such cases are disambiguated by the mood of the verb in the relative clause: the indicative mood determines specific interpretations, the subjunctive determines non-specific ones (Quer, 1998; Rivero, 1975, 1977). An interpretation task tested whether long immersed, highly proficient speakers of L2 Spanish—L1 English and Japanese—assign the correct interpretations to such types of clauses. The following asymmetries were found: absence of [umood] in L1 English and absence of the D category in L1 Japanese leads to non-native like interpretations. However, observed success in linking indicative and subjunctive mood with the appropriate specific/non-specific interpretations is also an effect of positive L1 transfer and of the implementation of a 'misanalysis' strategy to avoid unconstrained variability in ILGs (Hawkins and Chan, 1997; Tsimpli, 2003a).
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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