The acquisition of aspect in L2 Portuguese and Spanish. Exploring native / non-native performance differences
This study investigates the possibility of native-like ultimate attainment by analyzing L2 knowledge of aspect as seen in the Preterit/Imperfect contrast of highly successful English L2 learners of Portuguese and Spanish. Building on innovative work by Montrul & Slabakova (2003) and Slabakova & Montrul (2003), we test knowledge of semantic entailments associated with the acquisition of [+/- perfective] features checked in higher AspP. Additionally, we investigate the possibility of a specific pattern of associated target-deviant L2 performance. We hypothesize that L2 performance can be affected by explicit positive evidence (pedagogical rules) despite otherwise demonstrable native-like competence. Indeed, the data reveal a pattern of target-deviant performance noted only in three specific contexts, all of which can be linked to traditional instruction: (a) with particular stative verbs not used in the Preterit (b) when preceded by certain adverbial phrases (<i>e.g.</i>,<i>siempre</i>) and (c) so-called semantic shifting verbs (<i>e.g.</i>, <i>sabía </i>vs. <i>supe</i>).