The development of argument structure in the initial L2 mental grammatical system

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This chapter investigates the development of argument structure in early L2 acquisition. I view argument structure and its development within the context of the Multiple Constraints Hypothesis (Lenzing 2013) and its core claim that the L2 initial mental grammatical system is constrained at the different levels of linguistic representation. I argue that at the beginning of the L2 acquisition process, argument structure is not fully developed. In particular, I claim that essential syntactic features are missing which are required to align semantic and syntactic information in the L2 speech production process. The constraints on argument structure lead to direct mapping processes from arguments to surface form. I present a combined cross-sectional and longitudinal study of beginning learners of L2 English with German as L1 in a formal context. The analysis of the oral speech production data focuses on argument structure and its development in the L2 acquisition process. The results of the analysis support my claims concerning the initial constraints at the level of argument structure.


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