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Cognitive Linguistics

Editor-in-Chief: Divjak, Dagmar

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Volume 21, Issue 2


On the use of posture verbs by French-speaking learners of Dutch: A corpus-based study

Maarten Lemmens / Julien Perrez
Published Online: 2010-06-18 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/COGL.2010.012


This article presents the results of a quantitative and qualitative corpus study of the use of the Dutch posture verbs staan (‘stand’), liggen (‘lie’) and zitten (‘sit’) by French-speaking learners of Dutch. In addition to providing a quantified insight into which uses of these verbs prove most problematic to the L2 learners, the study has also revealed three important tendencies. Firstly, in line with the typological differences between French and Dutch (where these verbs behave like noun classifiers), our analysis confirms the French-driven tendency of the learners for underusing these verbs. Secondly, seemingly paradoxical to the previous point, is that these learners occasionally overuse these posture verbs in contexts where no such verb is allowed. Thirdly, our qualitative analysis of errors reveals that the learners operate on grammaticised semantic distinctions drawn from the target language. Even if the categories used by L2 speakers may not be the same as those exploited by native speakers, our analysis suggests that the L2 speakers are thus aware of the patterns in the input and exploit them in a fashion that may not differ all that much in kind from those in L1 acquisition.

Keywords:: posture verbs; Dutch; second language acquisition; learner corpus; lexical; overgeneralisation

About the article

Address for correspondence: M. Lemmens, Professeur en linguistique et didactique des langues, UFR Angellier, Université de Lille 3, B.P. 60149, 59653 Villeneuve d'Ascq CEDEX, France. Email:

Address for correspondence: J. Perrez, Facultés Universitaires Saint-Louis (FUSL), Boulevard du Jardin botanique 43, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium. Email:

Received: 2009-03-01

Revised: 2009-11-25

Published Online: 2010-06-18

Published in Print: 2010-05-01

Citation Information: Cognitive Linguistics, Volume 21, Issue 2, Pages 315–347, ISSN (Online) 1613-3641, ISSN (Print) 0936-5907, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/COGL.2010.012.

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