Volume 4, Issue 4
  • ISSN 1879-9264
  • E-ISSN: 1879-9272
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This study examines the interpretation of constituent wh-questions in L2 English by learners whose L1 is Austrian German. Austrian German and English share identical surface word order patterns for a range of question forms, but with distinct semantic interpretations. Non-target patterns of interpretation show that the learners ay high levels of proficiency continue to optionally parse English questions with the L1 syntax. The continued presence of thematic verb movement and head-final VP syntax in L1 German-L2 English interlanguagechallenges previous findings that headedness is reset very early and that V2 is realised by auxiliary verbs. This is analysed as an instance of Variational Learning (Yang, 2002), whereby the L1 grammar is accessed to parse L2 input where possible. The L1 syntactic representation thus continues to be available at high proficiency levels to parse input strings that are linearly compatible, giving rise in the case of L1 German-L2 English to non-target parses and interpretation of wh-questions.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): headedness; L1 transfer; parameters; parsing; variational learning; verb second
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