The Role of the Non-Modal Auxiliary 'Hebben' in the Acquisition of Dutch as a Second Language
The paper addresses the issue of a possible relationship between the acquisition of non-modal auxiliaries and the acquisition of syntactic phenomena in an L2. It has been claimed in the literature that the acquisition of non-modal auxiliaries enables learners to acquire syntactic phenomena such as post-verbal negation (cf. Parodi, 2000; Dimroth, 2004) and syntactic finiteness (Dimroth et al., 2003; Jordens, 2004). The present paper aims to make a contribution to this line of research by investigating the role of hebben in the acquisition of certain V2 phenomena in L2 Dutch. More specifically, it seeks to answer the question of whether the production of hebben by Turkish and Moroccan learners of Dutch is related to these learners' acquisition of topicalisation and post-verbal negation. An exploratory study is described in which longitudinal production data are examined both quantitatively and qualitatively. The data are taken from the ESF-corpus (cf. Feldweg, 1992) and concern interview data and film retellings from two Turkish and three Moroccan learners who learned Dutch in a naturalistic setting. The data show that all five learners fail to produce topicalised structures and post-verbal negations as long as they do not produce hebben. Moreover, learners start to produce such V2 structures shortly after they have produced their first instances of hebben. These findings seem to indicate that the production of hebben is related to the acquisition of topicalisation and post-verbal negation, i.e., the non-modal auxiliary seems to serve as a bootstrap into the V2 system of Dutch. To explain the observed relationship between hebben and V2 phenomena, an explanation by Jordens (2004) is considered. It is concluded that the present data are in line with his account. It is also stressed, however, that some caution is needed in interpreting the findings, due to the exploratory character of the study.
Published online: 24 March 2014
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Verspoor, Marjolijn & Marjolein Cremer
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