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Competence similarities between native and near-native speakers (an investigation of the preterit/imperfect contrast in Spanish)

Competence similarities between native and near-native speakers (an investigation of the preterit/imperfect contrast in Spanish)
Competence similarities between native and near-native speakers (an investigation of the preterit/imperfect contrast in Spanish)
It has been suggested that tense and aspect distributions are very difficult to learn in a second language (L2), they are prone to fossilize universally, and their interpretive properties are subject to a critical period (Coppieters, 1987). This study focuses on the acquisition of the semantic implications of the preterite-imperfect contrast in Spanish by English-speaking individuals of very advanced proficiency in Spanish who were not living in a Spanish-speaking country. By assuming that aspect is encoded in a functional category where the features [+/-perfective] are checked, depending on the language (Giorgi & Pianesi, 1997), this study asks whether ultimate attainment in the aspectual domain is possible and whether features of functional categories not selected in early childhood are subject to a critical period, as Hawkins and Chan's (1997) Failed Formal Features Hypothesis states. Experimental evidence from two tasks probing the interpretations of perfective and imperfective aspectual forms in Spanish suggests that many learners (almost 30%) in our total subject pool (including advanced to near-native speakers) and 70% of the near-native group performed like native speakers on all sentence types in all tasks. Although aspect is certainly a difficult area to master, particularly because the meanings of the imperfect are acquired quite late, L2 learners are clearly able to overcome the parametric options of their native language. At least for this domain, it is suggested that access to Universal Grammar does not necessarily decay with age in L2 acquisition.
0272-2631
351-398
Montrul, Silvina
408b24c3-4061-4485-85ab-1564bf45c920
Slabakova, Roumyana
1bda11ce-ce3d-4146-8ae3-4a486b6f5bde
Montrul, Silvina
408b24c3-4061-4485-85ab-1564bf45c920
Slabakova, Roumyana
1bda11ce-ce3d-4146-8ae3-4a486b6f5bde

Montrul, Silvina and Slabakova, Roumyana (2003) Competence similarities between native and near-native speakers (an investigation of the preterit/imperfect contrast in Spanish). Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 25 (3), 351-398. (doi:10.1017/S0272263103000159).

Record type: Article

Abstract

It has been suggested that tense and aspect distributions are very difficult to learn in a second language (L2), they are prone to fossilize universally, and their interpretive properties are subject to a critical period (Coppieters, 1987). This study focuses on the acquisition of the semantic implications of the preterite-imperfect contrast in Spanish by English-speaking individuals of very advanced proficiency in Spanish who were not living in a Spanish-speaking country. By assuming that aspect is encoded in a functional category where the features [+/-perfective] are checked, depending on the language (Giorgi & Pianesi, 1997), this study asks whether ultimate attainment in the aspectual domain is possible and whether features of functional categories not selected in early childhood are subject to a critical period, as Hawkins and Chan's (1997) Failed Formal Features Hypothesis states. Experimental evidence from two tasks probing the interpretations of perfective and imperfective aspectual forms in Spanish suggests that many learners (almost 30%) in our total subject pool (including advanced to near-native speakers) and 70% of the near-native group performed like native speakers on all sentence types in all tasks. Although aspect is certainly a difficult area to master, particularly because the meanings of the imperfect are acquired quite late, L2 learners are clearly able to overcome the parametric options of their native language. At least for this domain, it is suggested that access to Universal Grammar does not necessarily decay with age in L2 acquisition.

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Published date: September 2003
Organisations: Modern Languages

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 353564
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/353564
ISSN: 0272-2631
PURE UUID: f1d91c55-a2bf-46be-a2c4-f072ca27419b
ORCID for Roumyana Slabakova: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-5839-460X

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 18 Jun 2013 12:05
Last modified: 08 Apr 2020 00:34

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