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Applied Linguistics Review

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Interpreting mood choice effects in L2 and L1 Spanish: empirical evidence and theoretical implications

Aoife Ahern / José Amenós-Pons / Pedro Guijarro-Fuentes
Published Online: 2017-11-07 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2017-0097


The rich morphology of Spanish, such as that of tense and verbal mood, encodes a range of features leading to diverse contextual effects on interpretation, some of which are examined in the light of original experimental data in the present study. Specifically, we analyse data on the interpretation of mood in concessive structures by upper-intermediate and advanced learners of L2 Spanish, with L1 French (N=48) and L1 English (N=40), and from an L1 European Spanish control group (N=35). The results of the learner-group interpretation experiment led to a follow-on study enquiring into the understanding of mood alternation in concessive clauses by another group of L1 European Spanish speakers through a metalinguistic interpretation task. Learner group findings suggested a heavier reliance on lexical information and world-knowledge than on grammatical cues, while L1 speakers’ data indicate a default association maintained between subjunctive and irrealis interpretations, leading to a greater measure of variability in describing presuppositional uses of this mood. The native speaker data may reflect challenges posed by representing and describing, using metalinguistic knowledge, structures whose interpretation requires the integration of linguistic, discourse and extralinguistic information. Findings are discussed in relation to current linguistic descriptions and potential contributions of our empirical data.

Keywords: English; French; Spanish subjunctive; L2 acquisition; pragmatic inference

This research has been developed as part of the research project “Semántica procedimental y contenido explícito III” (SPYCE III), funded by the Spanish Ministry for Economy and Competitivity (FFI2012-31785). We thank the two anonymous reviewers who provided helpful suggestions and observations on a previous draft; all disclaimers hold.


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About the article

Published Online: 2017-11-07

Citation Information: Applied Linguistics Review, ISSN (Online) 1868-6311, ISSN (Print) 1868-6303, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2017-0097.

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