This study investigates whether Spanish-and Turkish-speaking learners of English discover the semantic and syntactic constraints on the causative/inchoative alternation in the absence of overt morphological clues. Results of a Picture Judgment Task show that L2 learners do discover these properties, and that overall verbs appear to cluster in classes in their interlanguage grammars. However, the Turkish group, at a lower proficiency level than the Spanish one, accepted transitivity errors with unaccusative, unergative and non-alternating transitive verbs. Although some of the developmental trends observed could be attributed to L1 influence, lower-proficiency learners may start with a wider grammar, and therefore not differentiate lexico-syntactically among different verb classes. With higher proficiency, L2 learners eventually recover from overgeneralizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-106
Number of pages56
JournalLanguage Learning
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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