This paper examines the interpretation of NPs in generic and existential contexts in the acquisition of Brazilian Portuguese (BrP) as a third language (L3) by learners who speak English and a Romance language (Spanish, French or Italian). The paper examines whether transfer/cross-linguistic influence is from English, Spanish/French/Italian, or both, and whether it matters which language is the learners' first language (L1) vs. their second language (L2). An Acceptability Judgment Task of NP interpretation in BrP is administered to L1-English L2-Spanish/French/Italian and L1-Spanish L2-English learners of BrP as an L3, as well as to a control group of native speakers of BrP. The findings point to a nuanced picture of transfer in L3 acquisition, in which both languages can serve as the source of transfer, but transfer from a previously learned Romance language is more pronounced than transfer from English, both for L1-English L2-Romance and L1-Spanish L2-English L3-learners of BrP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-251
Number of pages37
JournalLinguistic Approaches to Bilingualism
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015


  • Bare NPs
  • Brazilian Portuguese
  • Existential readings
  • Genericity
  • Third language acquisition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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