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Future Directions in the Acquisition of Variable Structures: The Role of Individual Lexical Items in Second Language Spanish
Kimberly L. Geeslin
187-204 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


Accounts of second language acquisition that recognize a social dimension of language use have long been in existence and have received additional attention since the publication of the seminal work by Canale and Swain (1980), who argued that communicative competence in a L2 entails not only knowledge of the grammar of a language but also of how to organize discourse, make requests for clarification and use language appropriately in a given context. One growing body of research on the development of communicative competence in second languages is found within the framework of variationist linguistics, which provides a model for studying cross-linguistic influence, providing a realistic view of the target, examining restructuring in L2 grammars, and exploring the process of moving beyond the classroom variety (Bayley & Preston 2008). The current paper highlights some of the recent advances in variationist research on second language Spanish and provides a more detailed look at one particular case of such developments: the examination of the role that individual lexical items play in the use of variable structures, such as the copula contrast (i.e., ser vs. estar). In order to accomplish this, the current paper reports on a study of advanced English-speaking learners and native speakers of Spanish, all of whom completed a sociolinguistic interview. An analysis of the range of adjectives produced in attributive contexts and the degree to which each individual lexical item co-occurs with more than one copula is presented and contrasted across participant groups. Implications of these findings for sociolinguistic and second language acquisition research are addressed.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 15th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium
edited by Chad Howe, Sarah E. Blackwell, and Margaret Lubbers Quesada
Table of contents
Printed edition: $310.00