Knowledge and Processing of Subject-related Discourse Properties in L2 Near-native Speakers of Spanish, L1 Farsi

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This chapter investigates the discourse-constrained distribution of referential subject pronouns (RSP) by native Farsi-speaking, adult second language (L2) Spanish speakers. Results from offline and online tasks measuring participants’ knowledge and processing of overt and null subjects in Contrastive Focus, Topic Shift and Topic Maintenance contexts were mixed, showing divergence and convergence. The results are discussed in light of the Interface Hypothesis (IH; Sorace 2011, 2012), which predicts divergence on the processing of external interface-conditioned properties like RSP distribution. While some unexpected group results obtained, the results are ultimately interpreted as not fully supporting the IH since native-like processing of Topic Shift tokens obtained. While RSPs have been extensively examined, this study makes new contributions by examining near-native L2 speakers of languages sharing analogous RSP distribution for the contexts tested using both online and offline methodology. Keywords: subject pronouns; topic; focus; near-native; Farsi; Interface Hypothesis


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