Publication details [#55867]

Thompson, Amy S. 2012. Se in the interlanguage of Portuguese speakers. Spanish in Context 9 (3) : 369–399.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


The struggle of L1 English learners of Spanish with the clitic Se has been documented (Montrul, 2000; Toth, 2000; Zyzik, 2006), but there have not been studies to document the use of the Spanish Se by L1 Portuguese speakers. Although Portuguese is structurally similar to Spanish in many ways, including the existence of Se, this clitic has subtle usage differences in the two languages. In Spanish, Whitley (2002) and Zyzik (2006) have identified seven different categories of Se; Portuguese has fewer uses and applies it less frequently (Azevedo, 2005; Cunha &Cintra, 2001; Scherre, 2005). The current study, which is a modified replication of Zyzik (2004), examines the use of Se by L1 Brazilian Portuguese (BP) students of Spanish. These northeastern Brazilian students narrated a short story from the picture book Pancakes for Breakfast (DePaola, 1978) and then performed a stimulated recall task. Using this data, correct uses of Se, omissions of se in obligatory contexts, and overgeneralizations of Se by the L1 BP participants were analyzed. In addition, the participants' noticing of errors with Se was also examined through an analysis of the stimulated recall, and the results indicate that the participants did not notice any of their errors with the clitic se. The results also indicate that positive L1 transfer can partially account for the L1 Portuguese speakers' interlanguage; however, factors other than L1 transfer need to be considered when discussing interlanguage development.