The acquisition of Verbal Aspect is a well-known problem in studies of second language (L2) and heritage language (HL) acquisition of Russian. It has yet to be determined which morphological reflexes of Aspect marking (prefixation or suffixation) and which semantic features (telicity or boundedness) pose a greater difficulty, respectively, for advanced proficiency L2 and HL learners. This paper examines the results of an on-line stop-making-sense task, which manipulated pairs of sentences contrasting in presence/absence of a telicizing prefix or in presence/absence of an unbounding/imperfectivizing suffix. Group results show that both features have been acquired, although to a different degree, with a consistent advantage of HL participants over L2 participants. The HL and the L2 groups diverged in the patterns of their accuracy: the HL group struggled most with telicity contrasts, while the L2 group struggled more with the boundedness contrasts. Most importantly, despite patterning with the monolingual native speakers in many ways, high proficiency heritage speakers also converged with the foreign language learners in their sensitivity to telicity contrasts, a feature of lexical aspect, and the associated morphological realization. The results for both test groups suggest some aspectual contrasts pose a greater difficulty than others for incomplete acquirers, and that functional morphology may be the bottleneck not only of L2 acquisition (Slabakova, 2008), but also, to some degree, for HL acquisition.
Selected Proceedings of the 2010 Second Language Research Forum: Reconsidering SLA Research, Dimensions, and Directions
edited by Gisela Granena, Joel Koeth, Sunyoung Lee-Ellis, Anna Lukyanchenko, Goretti Prieto Botana, and Elizabeth Rhoades
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