Chapter published in:Language Learning, Discourse and Cognition: Studies in the tradition of Andrea Tyler
Edited by Lucy Pickering and Vyvyan Evans
[Human Cognitive Processing 64] 2018
► pp. 213–247
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Overpassivization and unaccusativity as L2 construction learning
It is well known that many L2 users overpassivize unaccusatives. The same L2 users may also be reluctant to accept constructions with unaccusative meanings. We examined the responses from 56 L2 users of English on a scaled grammaticality judgment task. We predicted that performance would be negatively affected in the presence of a conceptualizable agent in the discourse scene that biases an external causation construal and with low-frequency verbs and alternating verbs. We found clear effects for frequency and alternation in the hypothesized direction. However, there was no evidence for an independent contribution of the conceptualization bias condition. Our study supports the claim that learners build their L2 grammars by abstracting not only the statistical properties but also the complex, polysemous meanings of the constructions they experience in usage.
Keywords: Frequency, cognitive-effects, L2 constructions
Published online: 20 December 2018
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