General programme, activity sheet

Thursday 8 September, 2016 15:00 to 15:30 Oral presentation
Pronoun resolution in successive learners of Basque
Speaker: Maialen Iraola Azpiroz, Universidad de Kaiserslautern

Authors: Maialen Iraola Azpiroz & Maria José Ezeizabarrena

Compared to the substantial number of studies on monolinguals and simultaneous bilinguals on the acquisition of discourse-pragmatic constraints on the use of pronouns (a.o. Sorace et al. 2009), there has been much less investigation in c(hild)L2 learners An exception is the study by Kraš (2015) in Croatian cL2 learners acquiring Italian, a language combination where the distribution of pronouns does not differ. CL2 learners showed similar preferences to those of monolinguals. More importantly, in some conditions cL2 learners outperformed monolinguals by selecting less often infelicitous overt pronouns as a result of L1-driven acceleration. Based on these results, Kraš (2015) argues that instability at the syntax-discourse interface may be primarily driven by crosslinguistic influence in cL2 learners whose L1 differs from the L2 in the interface under study. This study aims at exploring further the performance of cL2 learners by providing data from Spanish cL2 learners of Basque. The interpretations of hura “that” in contrast to null pronouns were analysed in younger (aged 6–7) and older (aged 8–10) groups acquiring Basque as L1 or L2. The results from a picture selection task revealed that L1 and cL2 learners had still not acquired the [+topic shift] feature encoded in hura by age 6–7 (see Table 1). However, L1 8–10-year-olds were better at interpreting hura despite not reaching adult levels. Such a development between age groups was not observed in cL2 learners. Although Basque and Spanish are similar with respect to the null subject parameter, the distribution of overt forms seems to differ. Whereas hura shows a bias towards a non-topical antecedent, the Spanish él does not seem to have such a strong bias (Filiaci et al. 2014). The results suggest that cL2 learners may behave in a non-targetlike fashion when there exist crosslinguistic differences due to representational deficits.
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Discourse and pragmatic development
Place: Room B-11

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