Adult Accessibility to L2 Representational Features: Evidence from the Spanish DP
Tiffany Judy, Pedro Guijarro-Fuentes, and Jason Rothman
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Couched within current generative L2 acquisition theorizing, the present study examines the L2 acquisition of Spanish by English natives. Specifically, this research investigates the extent to which adult L2 learners can acquire new formal features not instantiated in their L1, such as the DP-features for grammatical gender in L2 Spanish. Related to the acquisition of DP-features in Spanish is the phenomenon of obligatory noun-raising and its syntactic and semantic effects. In Spanish, noun-raising is seen overtly by the position of adjectives, which mostly appear postnominally. (They can appear prenominally, but, unlike in English, they are not semantically ambiguous.) In light of these facts, the present study empirically tests the predictions of Representational Deficit Approaches (see Hawkins 2001) vs. Full Accessibility Accounts. The former claims adult learners lose the ability to acquire new formal linguistic features, while the latter maintains that adults can learn new L2 features. The data to be presented demonstrate that while the intermediate learners show native-like tendencies, adult English learners of L2 Spanish obtain a native-like command of gender and number as well as full knowledge of the semantics of adjective placement by the advanced proficiency level. It is concluded that these data provide evidence contra Representational Deficit Accounts, supporting only Full Accessibility Accounts.
Selected Proceedings of the 2007 Second Language Research Forum
edited by Melissa Bowles, Rebecca Foote, Silvia Perpiñán, and Rakesh Bhatt
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