Article published in:EUROSLA Yearbook: Volume 8 (2008)
Edited by Leah Roberts, Florence Myles and Annabelle David
[EUROSLA Yearbook 8] 2008
► pp. 79–106
Interpreting tense in a second language
The question of whether adult native speakers of Chinese, a language that does not morphosyntactically represent tense, are able to acquire tense in English has been a topic of great interest in part because it allows us to examine whether there is a critical period for features that are not instantiated in the native language (Hawkins 2001; Hawkins & Liszka 2003; Lardiere 1998a, 2003).While most previous studies have focused on production data, the present study examines the semantics of tense, investigating whether or not learners’ interpretations are sensitive to temporal distinctions. Native speakers of Mandarin are compared with native speakers of Japanese and Korean, languages which both morphosyntactically encode tense. Results of an interpretation task targeting the present progressive and past progressive in English show that by advanced levels of proficiency the three groups of learners performsimilarly. The results provide evidence that tense is fully acquirable in L2 acquisition regardless of the properties of the native language.
Published online: 15 August 2008
Cited by 4 other publications
Gabriele, Alison & William McClure
Martins, Custodio & Mário Pinharanda-Nunes
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