Selective deficits at the syntax-discourse interface: evidence from the CEDEL2 corpus

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Previous research shows that English-speaking learners of Spanish show (i) early sensitivity to the syntactic mechanisms licensing overt and null pronominal subjects, yet (i) persistent and long-lasting deficits when pronominal distribution is constrained by topic/focus at the syntax-discourse interface. It has been assumed that such vulnerability affects the whole set of phi-features of the pronominal paradigm, but I will use near-native corpus evidence to show that the observed deficits are selective, i.e., they do not affect the whole set of phi-features in the pronominal paradigm but rather a subset: due to their representational nature (which is constrained by Universal Grammar), only third person singular animate pronouns are targets for vulnerability, while the rest of the paradigm remains rather stable.


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