General programme, activity sheet

Thursday 18 September, 2014 11:30 to 12:00 Oral presentation
Characterizing residual optionality: Focus-related competencies in L2 Spanish
Authors: Timothy Gupton

This study tests the predictions of the Interface Hypothesis (IH, e.g. Sorace & Filiaci 2006, Sorace 2011) by replicating methodologies in Hertel (2003), Lozano (2006), and Domínguez & Arche (2008), which returned conflicting results regarding focus-related learner competencies with unergative and unaccusative predicates. I examine intuitions and preferences for SV and VS with unaccusative and transitive predicates utilizing a contextualized Appropriateness Judgment Task (AJT) and Word Order Preference Task (WPT) with SV/VS response options accompanied by audio. The AJT elicited all-focus replies and subject narrow-focus replies for both predicate types, while the WPT elicited narrow-focus and contrastive focus replies for subjects and direct objects of transitive predicates. The WPT utilized innovative preference options (1) designed to uncover optionality. For unaccusative all-focus replies VS was predicted to be preferred (Perlmutter 1978), and SV was the predicted word order preference for transitive predicates. Following Zubizarreta (1998), for subject narrow-focus contexts (1), V(O)S (1a) is the predicted word order reply preference for both predicate types, while SV(O) (1b), with prosodic stress (in bold) on the subject, forces a subject contrastive reading. Participant groups examined include an advanced group of non-native Spanish professors and graduate students (AG, N=13), and native speaker controls (NS, N=20) primarily from Spain and Peru. AG results on the AJT suggest native-like judgments – except for SV all-focus replies to unaccusative predicates (p = 0.006), which the AG group unexpectedly rated lower. On the WPT, AG preferences were native-like for object narrow-focus, object contrastive focus, and subject narrow-focus contexts. For subject contrastive focus contexts AG performed native-like, with the exception of the preference indicating that both SV and VS were equally acceptable – the preferred reply of the NS control group (Figure 1). WPT results suggest that L2 instability may be more accurately described as not recognizing optionality in a native-like manner.
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Paper session A2
Place: Main Room

Other activities in Paper session A2
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