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Restrictions on definiteness in second language acquisition : affirmative and negative existentials in the L2 English of Turkish and Russian speakers

White, Lydia; Belikova, Alyona; Hagström, Paul; Kupisch, Tanja LU and Özcelik, Öner (2012) In Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism 2(1). p.54-89
Abstract (Swedish)
Abstract in Undetermined

In this paper we investigate whether learners of L2 English show knowledge of the Definiteness Effect (Milsark, 1977), which restricts definite expressions from appearing in the existential there-insertion construction. There are cross-linguistic differences in how restrictions on definiteness play out. In English, definite expressions may not occur in either affirmative or negative existentials (e.g. There is a/*the mouse in my soup; There isn’t a/*the mouse in my soup). In Turkish and Russian, affirmative existentials observe a restriction similar to English, whereas negative existentials do not. We report on a series of experiments conducted with learners of English whose L1s are Turkish and... (More)
Abstract in Undetermined

In this paper we investigate whether learners of L2 English show knowledge of the Definiteness Effect (Milsark, 1977), which restricts definite expressions from appearing in the existential there-insertion construction. There are cross-linguistic differences in how restrictions on definiteness play out. In English, definite expressions may not occur in either affirmative or negative existentials (e.g. There is a/*the mouse in my soup; There isn’t a/*the mouse in my soup). In Turkish and Russian, affirmative existentials observe a restriction similar to English, whereas negative existentials do not. We report on a series of experiments conducted with learners of English whose L1s are Turkish and Russian, of intermediate and advanced proficiency. Native speakers also took the test in English, Turkish, and Russian. The task involved acceptability judgments. Subjects were presented with short contexts, each followed by a sentence to be judged as natural/unnatural. Test items included affirmative and negative existentials, as well as items testing apparent exceptions to definiteness restrictions. Results show that both intermediate and advanced L2ers respond like English native speakers, crucially rejecting definites in negative existentials. A comparison with the groups taking the test in Russian and Turkish confirms that judgments in the L2 are quite different from the L1, suggesting that transfer cannot provide the explanation for learner success. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism
volume
2
issue
1
pages
54 - 89
publisher
John Benjamins Publishing Company
external identifiers
  • scopus:84969263244
ISSN
1879-9264
DOI
10.1075/lab.2.1.03whi
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
497da1ae-8f57-44df-ba04-1636f20ee775 (old id 2303570)
date added to LUP
2012-01-30 10:06:02
date last changed
2017-09-24 03:11:49
@article{497da1ae-8f57-44df-ba04-1636f20ee775,
  abstract     = {<b>Abstract in Undetermined</b><br/><br>
In this paper we investigate whether learners of L2 English show knowledge of the Definiteness Effect (Milsark, 1977), which restricts definite expressions from appearing in the existential there-insertion construction. There are cross-linguistic differences in how restrictions on definiteness play out. In English, definite expressions may not occur in either affirmative or negative existentials (e.g. There is a/*the mouse in my soup; There isn’t a/*the mouse in my soup). In Turkish and Russian, affirmative existentials observe a restriction similar to English, whereas negative existentials do not. We report on a series of experiments conducted with learners of English whose L1s are Turkish and Russian, of intermediate and advanced proficiency. Native speakers also took the test in English, Turkish, and Russian. The task involved acceptability judgments. Subjects were presented with short contexts, each followed by a sentence to be judged as natural/unnatural. Test items included affirmative and negative existentials, as well as items testing apparent exceptions to definiteness restrictions. Results show that both intermediate and advanced L2ers respond like English native speakers, crucially rejecting definites in negative existentials. A comparison with the groups taking the test in Russian and Turkish confirms that judgments in the L2 are quite different from the L1, suggesting that transfer cannot provide the explanation for learner success.},
  author       = {White, Lydia and Belikova, Alyona and Hagström, Paul and Kupisch, Tanja and Özcelik, Öner},
  issn         = {1879-9264},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {54--89},
  publisher    = {John Benjamins Publishing Company},
  series       = {Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism},
  title        = {Restrictions on definiteness in second language acquisition : affirmative and negative existentials in the L2 English of Turkish and Russian speakers},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1075/lab.2.1.03whi},
  volume       = {2},
  year         = {2012},
}