Verbal agreement studies have mainly focused on the environment of a complex noun phrase. In French, although the acquisition and the exact nature of clitics have been extensively studied, few studies, if any, have examined verbal agreement with the pre-posed object clitic in second language (L2) learners of French. The present study investigates whether the Impaired representation hypothesis, along with the Fundamental difference hypothesis, or the Missing surface inflection hypothesis can explain such a phenomenon. The participants were 2nd- and 4th-semester learners of French at a university in the United States. The results from three experimental tasks--a screening test, a picture matching task, and a judgment task in a moving window format--indicated that participants overall accepted subject-verb sentences, showing knowledge of agreement mechanisms in the L2. The judgment task also is highly suggestive of a breakdown in the computation of object-verb agreement sentences, especially when the plural feature is introduced.
Proceedings of the 9th Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition Conference (GASLA 2007)
edited by Roumyana Slabakova, Jason Rothman, Paula Kempchinsky, and Elena Gavruseva
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