First-language-constrained variability in the second-language acquisition of argument-structure-changing morphology with causative verbs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This article presents three related experiments on the acquisition of two classes of causative verbs: physical change of state verbs with agentive subjects (e.g., English break) and psychological change of state verbs with experiencer objects (e.g., English frighten) in English, Spanish and Turkish as second languages by speakers whose native languages are English, Spanish, Turkish and Japanese. These verbs participate in the causative/inchoative alternation crosslinguistically, but the morphological expression of the alternation varies in the four languages. English has predominantly zero-morphology, Spanish has anticausative morphology, and Turkish and Japanese both have causative and anticausative morphology. Assuming the tenets of the Full Transfer/Full Access Hypothesis (Schwartz and Sprouse, 1996), results of a picture judgement task testing transitive and intransitive sentences and manipulating overt/non-overt morphology on the verbs show that morphological errors in the three languages are constrained by the morphological patterns of the learners’ first language (L1s). In addition to showing that formal features of morphemes transfer but morphophonological matrices do not, this study refines the role of L1 influence in the morphological domain by showing that the morphophonological shape of affixes transfers as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-194
Number of pages51
JournalSecond Language Research
Volume17
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language

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