Causative errors with unaccusative verbs in Spanish as a second language

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Unaccusative verbs do not form a homogeneous class with respect to the syntactic constructions in which they may appear. Change of state unaccusatives alternate in transitivity (romper 'break'), others have a suppletive causative counterpart for the transitive variant (morir-matar 'diekill'), while still others do not alternate and do not have lexically unrelated counterparts (escapar 'escape'). It has been documented that L1 and L2 learners of English use intransitive verbs in causative contexts (Don't giggle me, Come it closer), due to the existence of the alternating class. Using a Picture Judgement Task,the present study investigates whether intermediate Turkish-speaking and English-speaking learners of Spanish know which unaccusative verbs alternate in transitivity and which ones do not, and whether they find causative errors natural with intransitive verbs. Results confirm similar findings to those reported in English interlanguage and L1 acquisition and suggest that at the level of argument structure, L1 and L2 acquisition are guided by the same linguistic principles; L1 influence plays a significant role with the reflexive morphology of intransitive forms. It is argued that transfer might not operate uniformly in all linguistic domains in interlanguage grammars (Schwartz and Sprouse, 1996).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-219
Number of pages29
JournalSecond Language Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language

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