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A Test Case for L1 versus UG as the L2 Initial State: The Acquisition of the Scope Properties of Disjunction by Japanese Learners of English
Theres Grüter, Moti Lieberman, and Andrea Gualmini
47-56 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This paper investigates the acquisition of a semantic property -- the interpretation of disjunction under negation -- by Japanese L2 learners of English in order to test the predictions of two hypotheses on the L2 initial state: (1) Full Transfer (e.g., Schwartz and Sprouse 1994), and (2) Full Access without Transfer (Epstein, Flynn, and Martohardjono 1996). English and Japanese differ in how disjunction interacts with negation: while the English disjunctive or is interpreted within the scope of negation, Japanese ka cannot be interpreted in the scope of negation. Research on L1 acquisition has found that English-speaking as well as Japanese-speaking children initially adopt an English-like interpretation (Gualmini and Crain 2005, Goro and Akiba 2004). A Full Access without Transfer account of L2 acquisition will therefore expect a similar default in L2 acquisition, predicting Japanese learners of English to adopt the target English interpretation from the start. Full Transfer, on the other hand, predicts Japanese learners to begin by interpreting English or like Japanese ka. Evidence from a pen-and-paper truth value judgment task conducted with 32 Japanese learners of English and 8 English controls is presented. The results show that the majority of the learners clearly adhere to a Japanese-like interpretation of English disjunction in negated sentences, a finding that derives straightforwardly from the Full Transfer hypothesis, but is not predicted under Full Access without Transfer.

Published in

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
Printed edition: $280.00