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Copula choice in adjectival contstructions in Dutch L1 Spanish L2

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Abstract

L2 learners of Spanish have difficulties choosing the right copula in <i>ser/estar </i>&#43; adjective constructions. Beyond the effect of processing load of information pertaining to different cognitive modules (Sorace&#8217;s (2011) Interface Hypothesis), this study aims at pinpointing the specific properties that make these constructions so problematic for L2 learners. A detailed analysis of the semantics of Dutch and Spanish copulas reveals a difference between the two languages at the level of inherent aspectual properties. A Fill-in-the-Gap Task testing the visibility of these properties showed that Dutch L1/Spanish L2 learners are aware of the different semantics of <i>ser/estar </i>versus<i> zijn/worden</i>, but failed to assign the target copula form to a subclass of gradable adjectives. The explanation for this specific case is still tentative, but the results of this study contribute to understanding what happens at the interfaces and how the process of L2 acquisition may work. Keywords: L2 acquisition; interfaces; Dutch; Spanish; aspectual properties; copulas; adjectives; visibility.

References

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