Volume 165, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0019-0829
  • E-ISSN: 1783-1490
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes


Recent literature in second language acquisition shows that syntax-driven structures give way to successful modal interpretation and morphological production, while discourse-dependent environments do not (Sorace, 2005; Tsimpli & Sorace, 2006, Borganovo, Bruhn de Garavito, & Prévost, 2008; Iverson, Kempchinsky, & Rothman, 2008). It has also been suggested that discourse-dependent environments involve both structural and pragmatic knowledge of L2, which intersect at the syntax-discourse interface (Sorace, 2005; Iverson, Kempchinsky, & Rothman, 2008), thereby requiring a multi-layered understanding of the target language. The present study contributes to this line of research by further examining morphological variability (Prévost & White, 2000; Sorace, 2000; Sorace, 2005; Iverson, Kempchinsky, & Rothman, 2008; Slabakova, 2009) in L2 acquisition at the morphosyntactic-semantic interface, following the work of Borganovo, Bruhn de Garavito, & Prévost (2008). The results of our study reveal that learners, even at advanced stages of acquisition, perform poorly in epistemic environments where syntax and discourse intersect. In such environments, there appears to be an interaction with pragmatics (cf. Iverson, Kempchinsky, & Rothman, 2008) that causes learners to opt for the indicative mood, even when the subjunctive is prescriptively required. Unlike deontic modality, which is essentially syntax-driven, epistemic modality requires structural knowledge, as well as knowledge from other domains (Sorace, 2005). Our study reveals that learners at all levels of instruction performed better in “purely syntactic” environments of deontic modality than in pragmatically challenging epistemic environments.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): deontic; epistemic; modality; morphology; semantics; syntax
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error