This study investigates the aural comprehension of Spanish subject and object relative clauses in second language (L2) learners of intermediate and advanced proficiency in cases where the position of the subject, the object and the verb vary within the complementizer phrase (CP). Subject and object relative clauses in Spanish can have verb-object and subject-verb order in the CP, as in English, as well as object-verb and verb-subject, unlike English. Studies of relative clauses have shown that learners are more accurate with the comprehension of subject than with object relative clauses, and our study sought to find out whether, in addition to type of relative clause (subject, object), the order of the constituents within the relative clause played a role in learner’s accuracy as a function of their proficiency in Spanish. A group of 19 English-speaking learners of Spanish divided into two proficiency levels (intermediate and advanced) and a group of 10 native speakers completed an aural picture-matching task and a grammaticality judgment task. Only the advanced learners with the highest proficiency scores were accurate with object relative clauses with S-V inversion. These results suggest that language transfer is more evidenced at lower proficiency levels, as the Full Transfer/Full Access Hypothesis predicts.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationLanguage Acquisition Beyond Parameters: Studies in honour of Juana M. Liceras
EditorsAnahí Alba de la Fuente, Elena Valenzuela, Cristina Martínez Sanz
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
ISBN (Electronic)9789027266262
ISBN (Print)9789027241931
StatePublished - Dec 23 2016

Publication series

NameStudies in Bilingualism
ISSN (Print)0928-1533


  • relative clause
  • Accessibility Hierarchy
  • wh-movement
  • complementizer phrase
  • Full Transfer/Full Access Hypothesis
  • pro-drop parameter


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