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Applied Linguistics Review

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Integrating Linguistic Theory and Experimentation in L2 Acquisition: Learning of Spanish Differential Object Marking by Portuguese and English speakers

Will NedigerORCID iD: http://orcid.org/0000-0002-2406-3140 / Acrisio Pires / Pedro Guijarro-Fuentes
Published Online: 2017-10-28 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2017-0094


This paper focuses on consequences for linguistic theory of a set of experiments on the L2 acquisition of Spanish Differential Object Marking (DOM), with three experimental groups: a native control group, a group of L2 learners whose L1 is English, and a group of L2 learners whose L1 is Brazilian Portuguese (BP). The results of the experiments shed light on two questions of theoretical import: (a) how best to characterize the syntax of Spanish DOM, and (b) whether BP should be classified as a DOM language. We argue that our results support López’s (2012, Indefinite objects: Scrambling, choice functions, and differential marking. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press) syntactic theory account of DOM over that of Torrego (1998, The dependencies of objects. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press), in particular due to the more fine-grained distinctions between non-specific objects made by López (2012) compared to Torrego (1998). We also argue that although BP is a DOM language (as suggested by Schwenter 2014, Two kinds of differential object marking in Portuguese and Spanish. In Patricia Amaral & Ana Maria Carvalho (eds.), Portuguese-Spanish interfaces: Diachrony, synchrony, and contact, 237–260. Amsterdam: John Benjamins), our BP subjects do not show a clear acquisitional advantage over English speakers with regard to Spanish DOM, due to independent reasons that include the morphological realization of DOM in Spanish.

Keywords: Differential Object Marking; L2 acquisition; Spanish; English; Brazilian Portuguese


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Published Online: 2017-10-28

Citation Information: Applied Linguistics Review, ISSN (Online) 1868-6311, ISSN (Print) 1868-6303, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2017-0094.

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