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L1 Conceptual Transfer in the Acquisition of L2 Motion Events in Spanish and English: The Thinking-for-Speaking Hypothesis

Rosalie Sharpen
Published Online: 2016-09-05 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opli-2016-0011


This research paper takes and builds upon Slobin’s (1987) thinking-for-speaking hypothesis as a basis for exploring the notion of conceptual transfer from the L1 in the acquisition and production of motion events in an L2. This is achieved by investigating the extent to which L2 transfer presents itself in the expression of motion in inverse translation tasks carried out by 27 native English speaking learners of Spanish and 32 native Spanish speaking learners of English. The nature of this transfer is then investigated to establish whether or not it appears to be conceptual. The tasks presented to participants contained items based on Talmy’s (1985) research on cross-linguistic lexicalisation patterns in the expression of motion events, which, as Slobin (1987, 1996) later proposes, appear to dictate the conceptualisation of motion events in a language. Results reveal that cognitive parameters in the participants’ native language affected their performance in the production of motion events in their second language, in accord with Slobin’s (1987) thinking-for-speaking hypothesis. Finally, the study concludes with a summary of these results.

Keywords: thinking-for-speaking; verb conflation patterns; language typology; second language acquisition; semantics


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About the article

Received: 2016-01-24

Accepted: 2016-06-07

Published Online: 2016-09-05

Citation Information: Open Linguistics, Volume 2, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 2300-9969, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opli-2016-0011.

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© 2016 Rosalie Sharpen. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

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