1887
Volume 135, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0019-0829
  • E-ISSN: 1783-1490
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Abstract

Interlanguage 'novel unaccusative' (term borrowed from BALCOM 1997) has been a subject of investigation since the late 1970s, though it has usually been discussed under the terms of an interlanguage syntactic structure called the 'pseudo-passive' (e.g., SCHACHTER & RUTHERFORD 1979; RUTHERFORD 1983; YIP 1995; HAN 2000). While most of the research to date is in favor of the view that the interlanguage structure is primarily induced by L1 discourse/syntactic influence, BALCOM (1997) provides an alternative explanatory account. Assuming a lexical perspective, she sees the interlanguage structure as the creation of a 'novel unaccusative' through a lexical process of detransitivization. In this paper, I shall discuss Balcom's view, in particular, her contention that interlanguage novel unaccusatives and native-like unaccusatives with transitive counterparts share the same underlying lexical process of detransitivization. Drawing on both natural longitudinal data and elicited data (HAN 1998), I will show that Balcom's view would be over-generalizing if applied across language acquisition contexts. What renders the application problematic is the fact that while some novel unaccusatives from L2 acquisition may derive from the lexical process of detransitivization as in L1 acquisition, some do not. It seems imperative to me that in the context of SLA, we discriminate, at least in loose terms, between developmental and L1-induced novel unaccusatives. Such a distinction is important not only because it helps to refine our understanding of what underlies novel unaccusatives in L2 acquisition, but also because it would lend more accurate guidance to L2 teachers in dealing with novel unaccusatives in the classroom.

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2002-01-01
2019-12-05
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