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The acquisition of clitics in L2 Spanish

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Abstract

This study examines the mental representation of clitic object pronouns in English L2 Spanish speakers of beginning, intermediate and advanced proficiencies. We present the results of a scalar grammaticality judgment task, which examines knowledge of clitic placement in both Exceptional Case Marking (ECM) verb constructions and non-ECM (finite and modal + infinitival) constructions. Our findings suggest that these advanced L2 learners have converged on the Spanish grammar, showing high sensitivity to the restrictions placed on clitic solidarity in ECM constructions coupled with acute knowledge of the distribution pattern of Spanish clitics in non-ECM environments. We argue that this pattern supports UG-accessibility approaches to adult L2 acquisition.

References

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