Beyond the syntax of the Null Subject Parameter

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This study investigates whether and how English-speaking L2 learners at various proficiency levels acquire the morphosyntactic <i>and </i>discourse-pragmatic properties of subject expression in Spanish. The crucial question is whether discourse-pragmatic properties are acquired together with syntactic features or later in the process of interlanguage development. According to the Full Transfer/Full Access Hypothesis, transfer effects should be observed at earliest stages of development and full parameter resetting at later stages. An oral production task was administered to 15 intermediate, 15 advanced and 15 near-native learners and 20 native speakers. Results indicated that the near-native speakers performed like the native speakers with the morphosyntactic and the<br />discourse-pragmatic properties of the Null Subject Parameter, while in intermediate and advanced learners the acquisition of these two properties were dissociated: the learners were accurate with morphosyntax and inaccurate with discourse-pragmatics.


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