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Semantics before Syntax: L2 Knowledge of anyone by Korean Speaking Learners
Kook-Hee Gil and Heather Marsden
40-51 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This paper reports on an experimental investigation of second language knowledge of the syntactic and semantic properties of the English quantifier anyone, by learners whose first language is Korean. The distribution and interpretation of anyone are subject to subtle restrictions that do not apply to equivalent constructions in Korean. Acquisition of the syntactic restrictions in particular (e.g., *Anyone is drinking tea) is identified as a poverty of the stimulus problem for Korean-speaking learners. The findings show that, while the 22 high intermediate-level learners in the study demonstrated target-like knowledge of the interpretation of anyone, only two demonstrated target-like knowledge of its distribution. Poverty of the stimulus contributes to the difficulty of acquiring knowledge of the syntax of anyone, but this asymmetry between syntactic and semantic knowledge raises questions about the development of L2 knowledge at the syntax-semantics interface. The paper explores a lexical transfer account of the findings.

Published in

Proceedings of the 2009 Mind/Context Divide Workshop
edited by Michael Iverson, Ivan Ivanov, Tiffany Judy, Jason Rothman, Roumyana Slabakova, and Marta Tryzna
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Printed edition: $195.00