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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 6: Acquisition of L2 Greek Agreement


6.1 Morphological agreement

According to the Missing Surface Inflection Hypothesis (Haznedar & Schwartz 1997; Lardiere 1998; Prévost & White 2000), L2 acquisition is UG-constrained in such a way that the operation Agree is available to L2 learners. Morphological agreement is realised post-syntactically at the PF-interface. Syntax and morphology develop independently in L2 acquisition without a straightforward mapping between them (Smith & Tsimpli 1995). It is difficult for L2 learners to access and match the morpho-phonological form with the relevant feature(s) (Lardiere 2005). The variability of L2 output by non-native speakers depends on their L1 and the length of exposure and age of onset to L2, the domain of agreement, locality and feature involved.

The present chapter investigates morphological agreement in L2 Greek and Cypriot verbal and nominal domains by L1 Russian speakers with various features such as gender, case, person, and number involved, and different levels of locality (short- and long-distance dependencies, following Tsimpli et al. 2005). Russian and Greek are similar in terms of phi-feature agreement. Greek is +determiner/clitic, while Russian is –determiner/clitic, but both Russian and Greek are +gender languages.

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