General programme, activity sheet

Friday 19 September, 2014 17:30 to 18:00 Oral presentation
Differential object marking in adult L2: The view from Romanian and Persian
Authors: Cristina Ciovârnache, Larisa Avram, Anca Sevcenco

Differential object marking (DOM) has received considerable attention in adult L2 learning research (Montrul, Bowles 2008, Guijarro-Fuentes, Marinis 2007, 2009); few studies, however, investigated contexts in which both L1 and L2 mark objects but under different semantic conditions. We investigate the learning of DOM in two such contexts: L1 Romanian – L2 Persian; L1 Persian – L2 Romanian. The Persian râ marks [+specific] objects. The Romanian pe marks [+specific] [+animate] objects. The relationship between the two systems is a subset-superset one, with Persian being the superset (Table 1). We address two questions: (i) are semantic universals accessible to adult learners?; (ii) is the learning process affected by the subset-superset relationship between the L1/L2 DOM systems? Our data come from two acceptability judgment tasks. Task 1 tested the use of pe in L2 Romanian. 14 Iranian intermediate learners and 14 native controls participated in the study. Task 2 targeted the use of râ in L2 Persian. 14 Romanian intermediate learners and 6 native controls participated in this task. In task 1 the participants did not accept pe with inanimate DPs (Fig. 2); their acceptance rate for partitives and specific indefinites was similar to the control group. In task 2 there was no difference between the responses to [–animate] and [+animate] DPs (Fig. 1). The acceptance rate for marked definite DPs, proper names and pronouns is higher than for partitives and specific indefinites in both tasks (Fig. 3-4). The acceptance rates in the L2 learner groups are lower than in the control groups. Our data indicate that L2 learners have access to semantic universals. The subset-superset relationship does not affect the learning route, irrespective of the subset/superset status of L2. There is no L1 transfer effect of semantic features with intermediate learners. The learners’ lower acceptance rates can be attributed to proficiency level. (300 words)
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Paper session E
Place: Main Room

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