Volume 11, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1879-7865
  • E-ISSN: 1879-7873
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Spanish clitic pronouns present multiple morphosyntactic and semantic challenges to second language learners. One particular issue is that of case marking, which can be further complicated by variable native input. As a result, a number of factors have been proposed to explain L2 clitics, such as acquisition sequences, classroom input, dialect-specific input, and animacy cues (e.g. Andersen, 1984Geeslin, García-Amaya, Hasler-Barker, Henriksen, & Killam, 2010Malovrh, 2008Malovrh & Lee, 2013VanPatten, 1990Zyzik, 2004). This paper uses the Dynamic Systems Theory to describe and explain L2 Spanish clitic development. The multiple social and linguistic variables that interact in clitic production suggest that clitics constitute a dynamic system. The data presented here come from a cross-sectional analysis of four groups of university-level L1 English learners of L2 Spanish, as well as a group of native Spanish speakers, who produced semi-spontaneous narration as well as post-production stimulated recall and interview. The results show a progression that is not always linear in terms of certain levels, learners, and measures. The quantitative and qualitative results reveal various interrelated social, linguistic, and cognitive factors which all play a role in the dynamic system of clitic case development.


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