Can native-speaker corpora help explain L2 acquisition of tense and aspect?
A study of the “input”
This study investigates the distributional patterns of verb form frequencies in the Spanish past tense (the Preterit and the
Imperfect) in the Corpus del Español (Davies, 2002). Following
a usage-based approach, we examine the potential influence of input frequency as a driving factor in L2 learning. Results
provide support for the existence of a distributional bias in L1 Spanish, with several telic predicates more often occurring
in the Preterit and several atelic predicates in the Imperfect. Results also demonstrate that the distribution of verbs in the
Preterit and the Imperfect is Zipfian, with the most frequent verbs overall accounting for the majority of all the tokens.
Finally, an analysis of the different meanings of the Imperfect demonstrates clear differences in frequency of use with the
continuous meaning as the most frequently expressed meaning, followed by habituality and progressivity. Implications for
research and teaching are discussed.
- 2.1Lexical and grammatical aspect
- 2.2Describing and explaining L2 acquisition of past tense morphology
- 2.3The present study
- 3.1The corpus
- 4.1Frequency distributions of the Preterit and the Imperfect
- 4.2Evidence of a Zipfian distribution
- 4.3Most distinctively associated verbs of the Preterit and Imperfect
- 4.4Distribution of the different meanings of the Imperfect