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Vulnerable Domains for Cross-Linguistic Influence in L2 Acquisition of Greek


Sviatlana Karpava

The book investigates adult second language (L2) acquisition of Greek by first language (L1) Russian speakers in the bi-dialectal setting of Cyprus. The participants all reside in Cyprus and came from former Soviet republics to Cyprus as young adults. The focus of the study is on the L2 acquisition of determiners, clitics and morphological agreement and relevant interpretable and uninterpretable features such as gender, person, number and case in both nominal and verbal domains. This explorative study of the real linguistic situation in Cyprus concerning adult second language/dialect acquisition tests theoretical hypotheses and provides insight into language development.
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Chapter 1: Introduction


1.1 Introduction: L2 acquisition theories

This dissertation investigates adult second language acquisition of Greek determiners, clitics and morphological agreement, syntactic, morphological and discourse properties, which provide a good testing ground for L2 acquisition theories. The experimental data analysis will specifically focus on testing the Interpretability Hypothesis (Tsimpli 2003), the Missing Surface Inflection Hypothesis (Lardiere 1998; Prévost & White 2000), the Full Transfer/Full Access Hypothesis (Schwartz & Sprouse 1994) and the Interface Hypothesis (Sorace 2006) and will explain learnability problems of interface linguistic phenomena and uninterpretable features.

Second language (L2) learners differ qualitatively and quantitatively from native speakers in their linguistic behavior, especially in early stages of L2 acquisition (Tsimpli & Sorace 2006). Some researchers (Birdsong 1992; Epstein, Flynn & Martohardjono 1998; Sorace 1993, 2000) hold that it is possible for some L2 learners to reach a near-native level of language proficiency, at least in grammar. Concerning L2 production, L2 learners are a heterogeneous group, while native speakers form a more homogeneous group as they have already reached ultimate attainment in their native first language (L1). There is a difference between L1 and L2 acquisition, however, which can be explained in various ways: either different learning mechanisms are involved in these two processes, or L2 learners are unable to analyse L2 input successfully, thus leading to non-target mental representations of L2 grammar (Hawkins 2001; White 2003).

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