It is well-documented that native speakers of languages which lack articles and have no morphological marker for definiteness show persistent variability in the use of articles in second languages where they are present and where definiteness is marked. It has been argued that these learners use articles to mark both specificity and definiteness. This paper shows that learners display fewer problems of this kind when acquiring a third language (L3) which has articles that mark definiteness in a similar manner to that of the second language (L2). The languages under investigation in this study are Japanese (L1), English (L2) and German (L3). Results from a gap-filling task show an effect of both L3 and L2 proficiency. Furthermore, inappropriate selections appear not to be based on participants selecting articles on the basis of specificity, but instead upon the grammatical Case of the noun in question.
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