Article published in:Language Acquisition Beyond Parameters: Studies in honour of Juana M. Liceras
Edited by Anahí Alba de la Fuente, Elena Valenzuela and Cristina Martínez Sanz
[Studies in Bilingualism 51] 2016
► pp. 149–185
Comprehension of subject and object relative clauses by second language learners of Spanish
This study investigates the aural comprehension of Spanish subject and object relative clauses in second language (L2) learners of intermediate and advanced proficiency in cases where the position of the subject, the object and the verb vary within the complementizer phrase (CP). Subject and object relative clauses in Spanish can have verb-object and subject-verb order in the CP, as in English, as well as object-verb and verb-subject, unlike English. Studies of relative clauses have shown that learners are more accurate with the comprehension of subject than with object relative clauses, and our study sought to find out whether, in addition to type of relative clause (subject, object), the order of the constituents within the relative clause played a role in learner’s accuracy as a function of their proficiency in Spanish. A group of 19 English-speaking learners of Spanish divided into two proficiency levels (intermediate and advanced) and a group of 10 native speakers completed an aural picture-matching task and a grammaticality judgment task. Only the advanced learners with the highest proficiency scores were accurate with object relative clauses with S-V inversion. These results suggest that language transfer is more evidenced at lower proficiency levels, as the Full Transfer/Full Access Hypothesis predicts.
Keywords: relative clause, pro-drop parameter, Full Transfer/Full Access Hypothesis, complementizer phrase, wh-movement, Accessibility Hierarchy
Published online: 16 December 2016
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Montrul, S., & Bowles, M. A.
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