Verb learning and the acquisition of aspect
L1 transfer of verb semantics
Although SLA research has extensively investigated the role of lexical aspect in L2 acquisition of tense-aspect marking, the role of L1 is not yet fully understood. This paper investigates the effect of cross-linguistic variation in lexical aspect and explores how the learning of lexical aspect interacts with the acquisition of aspectual morphology, using oral picture-description and written judgment tasks. 391 learners of Japanese (L1 English, Chinese, and Korean) participated in the study. The results show that L2 learners have problems in rejecting incorrect L2 aspectual structures (but not in accepting correct ones) when such structures involve L1–L2 discrepancy in lexical aspect. The results also confirmed a strong L1 effect at the level of surface inflected verbal form, showing significantly higher accuracy for items for which direct translation yields correct meaning than those that do not. It is argued that L1 transfer may be playing an important role in the L2 acquisition of aspect in that both positive and negative transfer collectively determine the order of acquisition predicted by the Aspect Hypothesis.