This study was inspired by Chierchia's (1994) proposal that learners use a form of morphosyntactic bootstrapping in the acquisition of the mass/count distinction. The present study extends this line of investigation into the relationship between morphosyntax and the acquisition of telicity by second language learners of English. Results of the study suggest that second language learners can acquire telicity but are sensitive to the morphosyntactic form in which it is encoded. However, in certain contexts it was difficult to evaluate the performance of the L2 learners as the results for the native speakers were somewhat surprising and called into question some of the standard judgments in the syntax and semantics literature on telicity. These results suggest that we need to develop a better understanding of what specific elements in the syntax encode telicity and what role the semantics of the NP/DP plays in deriving telicity (cf. Filip 2005, Smollett 2005). The issues related to the encoding of telicity are complex and we need to refine our understanding of what can serve as a delimiter in the native grammar in order to clearly understand the developmental patterns of language learners.
Proceedings of the 9th Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition Conference (GASLA 2007)
edited by Roumyana Slabakova, Jason Rothman, Paula Kempchinsky, and Elena Gavruseva Table of contents
ISBN 978-1-57473-422-5 library binding
v + 284 pages
publication date: 2008
published by Cascadilla Proceedings Project, Somerville, MA, USA