Chapter 5. Examining the influence of transfer and prototypes on the acquisition of the present progressive in L2 Spanish
We focus on the interpretation of the present progressive by English-speaking learners of Spanish (n=49) in order to examine whether L2 learners transfer all of the associated interpretations of a given form from the L1 or whether transfer is limited to the prototypes of a given form (Gass & Ard 1984; Kellerman 1977, 1979). In both Spanish and English, although the ‘core’ meaning of the progressive is continuous, a habitual meaning is possible if an adverb is present. However, unlike English, in the variety of Spanish that we examine, the progressive does not allow a futurate reading. The results of an interpretation task targeting the habitual and futurate interpretations show that early L2 learners of Spanish correctly accept the habitual reading, which is similar in the L1 and L2, and also incorrectly accept the futurate reading of the present progressive, which is possible only in the L1. These results suggest that the properties of the L1 can facilitate the acquisition of non-prototypical interpretations, even for early leaners. In addition, ruling out interpretations which are available in the L1, but not the L2, presents a challenge, even for less prototypical meanings.