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. 213–236
In search of the perfect tense
Across languages, the present perfect introduces a time interval whose right boundary extends to the present time (Todavía no ha llegado/‘She still has not arrived’), but there is variation as to whether perfect forms constitute marked or unmarked forms of past tense reference. We examine the acquisition of the present perfect in Mexican Spanish, a dialect where the perfect is highly marked. We explore patterns of use in present tense contexts in an elicitation study of 17 Mexican children (M = 5;7). Children perform well with the preterite, but use few perfect targets. Their most prominent response in perfect scenarios is not the preterite but the present tense, suggesting that to avoid the complexity of the perfect, children focus on the expression of the reference rather than the event time.
Keywords: L1 acquisition, Mexican Spanish, present perfect, tense and aspect
Published online: 16 December 2016
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