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Optionality and overgeneralisation patterns in second language acquisition: Where has the expletive ensconced «it»self?


Nadia Varley

This book discusses the nature of optionality in second language grammars and the indeterminacy observed in second language users’ linguistic representations. For these purposes, experimental data from 213 learners of German and 150 learners of Russian have been collected and analysed with a special focus on the acquisition of various «subjectless» and impersonal constructions as well as argument licensing. Whereas voice alternations and argument licensing are topics amply discussed in theoretical domains, their practical implementation within second language research has remained a research lacuna. This piece of work intends to fill the gap.


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This book is a revised version of my 2013 doctoral thesis submitted and defended at the University of Wuppertal. Its accomplishment would not have been possible without the great support, motivation, and understanding of my two supervisors, Monika Rathert (University of Wuppertal) and Susann Fischer (University of Hamburg). I owe them a debt of gratitude for their guidance, critical assessments, and fruitful exchange of ideas and opinions. Special thanks go to Peter Kosta (University of Potsdam) for his editorial support and helpful comments during the process of revision. I also want to thank Michael Rücker for his service sup- port and recommendations as regards the final choice of the title of this book. Many people supported the pilot study and the experiment execution. They helped me to collect the judgements of all 459 informants, participants in the ‘L2 German’ and ‘L2 Russian’ tests. Primarily, I want to express my gratefulness to my anonymous informants. I also want to thank all those, who distributed both L2 tests either in their language classes or among colleagues and acquaintances, or otherwise contributed to the realisation of the present empirical enterprise (list- ed in alphabetical order): Tanja Anstatt (Ruhr University of Bochum), Werner Bauer, Tilman Berger (University of Tübingen), Karin Bergmann, Michail Bez- rodnyj (University of Heidelberg), Thomas Bruns (University of Trier), Nikolay Chenkov, Birgit Chiasera (University of Erfurt), Svetla Fileva (Mathematical Grammar School, Veliko Tarnovo), Britta Friedmann (Technical University of Darmstadt), Rainer Goldt (University of Mainz), Heidrun Igra (University of Freiburg)...

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