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On the second language acquisition of Spanish reflexive passives and reflexive impersonals by French- and English-speaking adults

Annie Tremblay 1, *
Abstract : This study, a partial replication of Bruhn de Garavito (1999a; 1999b), investigates the second language (L2) acquisition of Spanish reflexive passives and reflexive impersonals by French- and English-speaking adults at an advanced level of proficiency. The L2 acquisition of Spanish reflexive passives and reflexive impersonals by native French and English speakers instantiates a potential learnability problem, because (1) the constructions are superficially very similar ( V DP) but display distinct idiosyncratic morphological and syntactic behaviour; (2) neither exists in English, and the reflexive impersonal does not exist in French; and (3) differences between the two are typically not subject to explicit instruction. Participants - 13 English, 16 French and 27 Spanish speakers (controls) - completed a 64-item grammaticality-judgement task. Results show that L2 learners could in general differentiate grammatical from ungrammatical items, but they performed significantly differently from the control group on most sentence types. A look at the participants' accuracy rates indicates that few L2 learners performed accurately on most sentence types. Grammatical and ungrammatical test items involving [+animate] DPs preceded or not by the object-marking preposition were particularly problematic, as L2 learners judged them both as grammatical. These results confirm that the L2 acquisition of Spanish reflexive passives and reflexive impersonals by French- and English-speaking adults instantiates a learnability problem, not yet overcome at an advanced level of proficiency.
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Annie Tremblay. On the second language acquisition of Spanish reflexive passives and reflexive impersonals by French- and English-speaking adults. Second Language Research, SAGE Publications, 2006, 22 (1), pp.30-63. ⟨10.1191/0267658306sr260oa⟩. ⟨hal-00572093⟩

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