Typological Universals and Sla
The Acquisition of Expletives in Dutch as a Second Language
This study seeks to investigate the relationship between typological universals and second-language acquisition. The question is addressed whether a specific universal, i.e., the hierarchy of expletives (Travis 1984), shapes the interlanguage systems of L2-learners. Data were elicited from 59 learners of Dutch as a second language (23 NSs of Turkish and 36 NSs of German). To test subjects' knowledge of Dutch expletive constructions, two written tests were administered: a grammaticality judgement task and a correction task. Two hypotheses were formulated. First, a prediction was made concerning the order of acquisition: subjects would acquire unmarked constructions before marked ones, such that the hierarchy of expletives was mirrored. Second, it was hypothesized that German learners would have relatively fewer problems with the two less marked constructions than Turkish learners, since the former have similar structures in their L1, while the latter cannot be familiar with such constructions from their L1. The findings provided some support for both hypotheses. The acquisition of the majority of constructions conformed to the universal. Furthermore, German learners showed better performances for two most unmarked constructions than did Turkish learners.
Published online: 24 March 2014