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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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7. Concluding remarks


233 7. Concluding remarks This book has been primarily concerned with the syntax-morphology-discourse interface and its workings in second language acquisition, as to test the bearings of particular theories building on syntax-morphology interactions (a specific version of Distributed Morphology as well as a configurational approach towards argument structure and argument licensing). The purpose has been to contribute to the ongoing debate of L2A straddling the interfaces with a thorough discus- sion of the syntax-morphology-discourse interface in developing and near- native interlanguage grammars. In this respect, the results of two experimental studies investigating the acquisition of various subjectless constructions by L2ers of German and Russian respectively have been offered and analysed in light of the newest insights within the generative grammar framework. A logical (and possibly trivial) expectation would be that the growing knowl- edge of grammar correlates with the growing level of proficiency of language users. Thus in general, L2ers are expected to show performance boost with each increasing level of L2 competence. This expectation, however, has not been borne out with respect to certain impersonal constructions in both L2 German and L2 Russian. Impersonal and anticausative constructions vary cross-linguistically. Having language-specific morphology and interpreted under different discourse condi- tions, they constitute a stumbling block even to advanced L2ers. In particular, the following constructions – ImpPass in L2 GE and AdvImp in L2 RU, – have proven to be a recalcitrant task to accomplish even with the very advanced L2ers (and across L1s for L2 GE). Thus, the L2 informants showed a...

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