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Focus at the syntax–discourse interface in L2 Spanish: Optionality and unaccusativity reconsidered

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2021-06-03
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Gupton, Timothy Michael
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Atribución-NoComercial 4.0 Internacional
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SAGE Publications
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We examine the second language (L2) acquisition of variable Spanish word order by first language (L1) speakers of English via the acquisition of unaccusative and transitive predicates in various focus-related contexts. We employ two bimodal linguistic tasks: (1) acceptability judgment task (B-AJT) and (2) appropriateness preference task (B-APT). Both present contextualized prompts similar to previous studies, followed by response options with accompanying audio to control for intonation and pauses. Results suggest a number of key findings: (1) by the high intermediate level, L2ers acquire the relevant syntactic and syntax information structure interface competencies for both predicate types; (2) native speakers and L2 groups exhibit optionality, and only differ in nuanced ways; and (3) advanced learners show signs of acquiring syntactic and syntax–information structure competencies in numerous contexts, but display minor differences regarding optionality with corrective focus, an interface incorporating multiple interfaces (syntax–prosody pragmatics). Unlike the predictions of the Interface Hypothesis (IH), this subtle, non-native-like divergence is characterized by divergent knowledge of optionality similar to that found among native speakers. Attempting to understand more completely the development of native-speaker optionality, we also conduct a corpus study of child-directed Spanish from CHILDES and find that, although syntactic theory explains much of the data, it cannot account for all of the variability in the data. Results suggest that children are exposed to apparent optionality from the earliest stages.
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discourse, English, information structure, Spanish, syntax–focus interface, unaccusativity
Citación
Gupton, T., & Sánchez Calderón, S. (2023). Focus at the syntax–discourse interface in L2 Spanish: Optionality and unaccusativity reconsidered. Second Language Research, 39(1), 185-229. https://doi.org/10.1177/02676583211017604
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Facultad de Filología
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Filologías Extranjeras y sus Lingüísticas
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