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Volume 37, Issue 3 (May 1999)


Functional typology and strategies of clause connection in second-language acquisition

Anna Giacalone Ramat
  • Corresponding author
  • University of Pavia.
  • Email:
Published Online: 2008-02-20 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling.37.3.519


In this study it is argued that typological generalizations based on the way languages code the relationships between two semantically connected clauses may shed light on the development of clause combining in the untutored acquisition of a second language by adult learners. An implicational hierarchy where semantic integration between states of affairs is correlated with the use of verb forms explicitly marked as dependent has been adopted and predictions on the developmental paths of learner languages have been formulated. The data description — based on four learners of Italian at different competence levels — shows an ordering in the emergence of different types of clause linkage that follows the predictions of the hierarchy: in the coding of complement clauses the relations situated at the left end of the hierarchy make use of “deranked” verb forms, those situated at the right end of “balanced” verb forms. Adverbial clauses allow for descriptions based on the same parameters used for complement clauses, while relative clauses are described according to different parameters. The findings of this study provide independent evidence for the validity of principles governing the distribution of particular morphosyntactic strategies in the coding of subordinate relations. This paper also intends to show how second-language-acquisition studies can offer interesting insights to people working in the field of typological and general linguistics.

About the article

*Correspondence address: Dipartimento di Linguistica, Università di Pavia, Strada Nuova 65, I-27100 Pavia, Italy.

Received: 1998-08-05

Revised: 1999-03-30

Published Online: 2008-02-20

Published in Print: 1999-05-01

Citation Information: Linguistics, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling.37.3.519. Export Citation

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