Annual Review of Cognitive Linguistics: Volume 7
  • ISSN 1572-0268
  • E-ISSN: 1572-0276
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This study examines to what extent English speakers of L2 Dutch reconstruct the meanings of placement verbs when moving from a general L1 verb of caused motion (put) to two specific caused posture verbs (zetten/leggen ‘set/lay’) in the L2 and whether the existence of low-frequency cognate forms in the L1 (set/lay) alleviates the reconstruction problem. Evidence from speech and gesture indicates that English speakers have difficulties with the specific verbs in L2 Dutch, initially looking for means to express general caused motion in L1-like fashion through over-generalisation. The gesture data further show that targetlike forms are often used to convey L1-like meaning. However, the differentiated use of zetten for vertical placement and dummy verbs (gaan ‘go’ and doen ‘do’) and intransitive posture verbs (zitten/staan/liggen ‘sit, stand, lie’) for horizontal placement, and a positive correlation between appropriate verb use and target-like gesturing suggest a beginning sensitivity to the semantic parameters of the L2 verbs and possible reconstruction.


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