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The acquisition of French morpho-syntactic properties: Cross-linguistic Influence in the Learning of L3 French by Turkish/Spanish speakers who learned English as an L2

Ben Abbes, Karima (2016) The acquisition of French morpho-syntactic properties: Cross-linguistic Influence in the Learning of L3 French by Turkish/Spanish speakers who learned English as an L2. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

Many studies have investigated third language acquisition (L3A) as an independent area of research. The core common interest of these studies has been to search for the source of cross-linguistic influence (CLI) among the previously acquired languages (i.e. L1 and L2) in the learning of an L3. In the domain of morpho-syntax, three competing hypotheses have emerged: one attributes a primary role to the L1 as the source of CLI (Jin, 2009; Hermas, 2014); a second proposes the L2 as the main source of transfer (Bardel and Falk, 2007; Falk and Bardel, 2011); while a third considers that the order of acquisition per se is not the significant factor triggering CLI in L3A, but rather the degree of typological proximity between the L1/L2 and the L3 (Rothman, 2011, 2013, 2015). This study set out to test these hypotheses in the learning of L3 French by two groups: L1 speakers of Spanish and L1 speakers of Turkish, both of whom had learned English as an L2. Each group was further sub-divided by their L2 proficiency into lower intermediates (LIs) and advanced (Adv). Using a ‘mixed methods approach’ consisting of quantitative and qualitative instruments, the acquisition of four morpho-syntactic properties was investigated: (i) Gender, (ii) Number Concord, (iii) Definiteness/Specificity and (iv) Verb Raising. Results were consistent with the proposal of Rothman (2011, 2013, 2015); (psycho)typological proximity seems indeed to be a determining factor triggering CLI in L3A. However, unlike Rothman, who always advocates holistic typological proximity, this study found evidence for CLI based on property-by-property structural similarity. In particular, it is argued that in the absence of clear holistic typological similarity, structural similarity on a property-by-property basis (actual and perceived) is the driving variable for CLI at the initial state of L3A. These findings led to the proposal of a new model entitled the property-based structural proximity (PSP) hypothesis.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: L3 acquisition of morpho-syntax
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PC Romance languages
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Language and Linguistics, Department of
Depositing User: Karima Ben Abbes
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2017 12:15
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2017 11:50
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/19104

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