Acquisition of L3 German

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In order to test current generative third language (L3) acquisition theories, this study attempts to tease apart the effect of first (L1) and second language (L2) knowledge on properties in the L3 of German. The properties tested are gender assignment, gender concord and the definite/indefinite contrast. The groups are L1 Spanish and L1 Japanese, both groups with L2 English. The L2 proficiency level was also considered and a general trend was observed such that learners with a higher L2 proficiency outperformed those with a lower one. In relation to the question of access to Universal Grammar (UG) by non-native learners, a task effect was found in that the results from the definiteness task offer some limited support for ‘Full Access’ accounts; however overall there is stronger, albeit indirect, support for representational deficit accounts.


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