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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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5. Two studies


5.   Two studies

In order to empirically check the rate of L2A of argument structure and argument licensing, impersonal constructions and voice alternations in general, two studies have been conducted. These two studies are dubbed (i) ‘L2 GE test’ for L2 German, and (ii) ‘L2 RU test’ for L2 Russian, respectively. First, the concept of both tests and the motivation behind the choice of this kind of survey are stated. Then, the methodology of data elicitation and procedures are described. Subsequently, both studies are separately analysed with respect to the constructions under investigation. I provide statistical evaluation of both averages and statistical variation within clusters. The evaluation proceeds across levels of acquisition (four levels each language) as well as across first languages with respect to L2 GE (which is helpful for estimating the rate and range of parameter resetting in L2A). Crucially, certain constructions (e.g. 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). These facts point out that there are certain deficits in interlanguage grammars due to be explained.

5.1  Methodology, informants, and data elicitation

Both studies, ‘L2 GE’ and ‘L2 RU’, have been designed alike, with two thematically cognate components: (i) a cloze test à 13 and 12 gaps with 241 and 190 words respectively, and (ii) a grammaticality judgement task (GJT) consisting of 37 questions.

The questionnaires were conducted...

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