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Languages 2017, 2(4), 22; doi:10.3390/languages2040022

Are Lions Green?: Child L2 Learners’ Interpretation of English Generics and Definite Determiners

Department of Hispanic Studies, University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, Mayagüez PR 00681, Puerto Rico
Department of Spanish & Portuguese, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 707 S. Mathews Ave., Urbana, IL 61801, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Maria del Carmen Parafita Couto, Usha Lakshmanan and Osmer Balam
Received: 15 July 2017 / Revised: 19 October 2017 / Accepted: 25 October 2017 / Published: 31 October 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bilingualism in the Hispanic and Lusophone World)
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The aim of this small-scale study (22 participants) was to analyze how L1-Spanish L2-English children interpret English noun phrases (NPs) by taking into consideration two variables: children’s age and amount of input. These two variables were studied in relation to children’s developmental tendencies and language transfer. Children begin with an innate predisposition for the generic interpretation, which leads them to incorrectly interpret some specific NPs. In contrast, transfer from the L1 explains the incorrect mapping between NP and interpretation in adult L2 speakers. We examined 22 L1-Spanish L2-English children and a control group of L1-English children on their interpretation of English NPs through an online task. Results revealed that L2 children’s interpretations significantly differ from the interpretations of the control group. We propose that like L1 children, child L2 learners will have to overcome their natural predisposition to interpret NPs as generic. However, child L2 learners must also overcome transfer effects from their L1. Additionally, results seem to suggest that the amount of input plays a role in learners’ interpretations. We propose that children who receive similar amounts of input in their two languages become aware of the differences faster, particularly in the forms where there is no overlapping between the languages (i.e., bare NPs). View Full-Text
Keywords: child L2 acquisition; noun phrases; generic; transfer child L2 acquisition; noun phrases; generic; transfer

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Morales-Reyes, A.; Arechabaleta-Regulez, B. Are Lions Green?: Child L2 Learners’ Interpretation of English Generics and Definite Determiners. Languages 2017, 2, 22.

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