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Languages, Volume 3, Issue 2 (June 2018)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) Languages (www.mdpi.com/journal/languages) is an international, peer-reviewed open access journal [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle Typological Differences in Morphological Patterns, Gender Features, and Thematic Structure in the L2 Acquisition of Ashaninka Spanish
Received: 15 January 2018 / Revised: 31 May 2018 / Accepted: 1 June 2018 / Published: 11 June 2018
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Abstract
It has been widely argued that morphological competence, particularly functional morphology, represents the bottleneck of second language acquisition (Jensen et al. 2017; Lardiere 1998, 2005; Slabakova 2008, 2009, 2013). In this study, we explore three challenging aspects of the morphology of Spanish among
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It has been widely argued that morphological competence, particularly functional morphology, represents the bottleneck of second language acquisition (Jensen et al. 2017; Lardiere 1998, 2005; Slabakova 2008, 2009, 2013). In this study, we explore three challenging aspects of the morphology of Spanish among advanced L1 Ashaninka—L2 Spanish speakers: (i) the acquisition of proclitics and enclitics with inflected verbs; (ii) the distribution of accusative clitics according to the thematic role of the direct object in anaphoric and doubling structures; and (iii) the distribution of clitic forms and their association with gender features. Our results show evidence of the L2 acquisition of clitic structures in L2 Spanish speakers, and no difference between native and L2 speakers regarding sensitivity to thematic roles. However, there are statistically significant differences between groups in the distribution of the gender specification of the clitic antecedents or doubled determiner phrases (DPs). We take these results as evidence in support of the view that morphological patterns can be acquired (proclitics vs. suffixes) as well as preferences for mapping thematic roles onto clitics, but subtle differences in the continuum of preferences for mapping gender features are more difficult to acquire. Full article
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Open AccessCorrection Correction: Deuchar, M.; Stammers, J.R. English-Origin Verbs in Welsh: Adjudicating between Two Theoretical Approaches. Languages 2016, 1, 7
Received: 7 June 2018 / Revised: 7 June 2018 / Accepted: 7 June 2018 / Published: 8 June 2018
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Open AccessReview From the Field to the Lab: A Converging Methods Approach to the Study of Codeswitching
Received: 24 January 2018 / Revised: 29 May 2018 / Accepted: 30 May 2018 / Published: 6 June 2018
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Abstract
Variation in the ways by which an individual processes codeswitched language may reveal fundamental dynamics of the language system that are otherwise obscured under unilingual conditions. Despite this, an important aspect that has been largely neglected in the field is the role of
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Variation in the ways by which an individual processes codeswitched language may reveal fundamental dynamics of the language system that are otherwise obscured under unilingual conditions. Despite this, an important aspect that has been largely neglected in the field is the role of the bilingual experience in language processing. Drawing on corpus-driven and experimental research, the corpus-to-cognition approach to codeswitching integrates field- and laboratory-based work to examine how the bilingual experience may influence language processing. In this review, we elaborate on the best practices for investigating codeswitching, with converging evidence from different methodologies across different bilingual populations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Code-Switching)
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Open AccessArticle Acquisition of French Causatives: Parallels to English Passives
Received: 3 December 2017 / Revised: 28 March 2018 / Accepted: 22 May 2018 / Published: 31 May 2018
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Abstract
Guasti (2016) notes similarities between English get- and be-passives, and Romance causatives of the faire-par and faire-infinitif types, respectively. On this basis she conjectures that faire-infinitif will show an acquisitional delay similar to that found for English be-passives, which are
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Guasti (2016) notes similarities between English get- and be-passives, and Romance causatives of the faire-par and faire-infinitif types, respectively. On this basis she conjectures that faire-infinitif will show an acquisitional delay similar to that found for English be-passives, which are not mastered until sometime after the age of four. Here, this prediction is tested and supported for French faire-infinitif causatives of transitive verbs. To explain the delay, the Universal Freezing Hypothesis (UFH) of Snyder and Hyams (2015) is extended to this type of causative: a restriction on movement is recast as a restriction on AGREE. A novel prediction, that faire causatives involving unergative or unaccusative verbs will be acquired much earlier, is also tested and supported. Finally, English get-passives and French “reflexive causative passives” are examined in light of the fact that both are acquired substantially earlier than age four. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Null Subject Occurrence in Monolingual Spanish SLI: A Discriminant Function Analysis
Received: 14 November 2017 / Revised: 10 May 2018 / Accepted: 17 May 2018 / Published: 23 May 2018
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Abstract
Background: Child Spanish-speakers appear to use more null subjects than do adults. Null subject use, like the use of tense marking, is sensitive to discourse-pragmatics. Because tense marking has been used to identify child Spanish-speakers with specific language impairment (SLI) with near
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Background: Child Spanish-speakers appear to use more null subjects than do adults. Null subject use, like the use of tense marking, is sensitive to discourse-pragmatics. Because tense marking has been used to identify child Spanish-speakers with specific language impairment (SLI) with near good sensitivity and specificity (89%), null subject use may as well, following the predictions of the Interface Deficit Hypothesis. We investigate the possibility that null subject occurrence may form part of a useful discriminant function for the identification of monolingual child Spanish-speakers diagnosed with specific language impairment. Methods: We evaluate the rate of null subject expression from spontaneous production data, together with results from independent measures of another discourse-sensitive construction, verb finiteness, in child Spanish. We perform a discriminant function analysis, using null subject expression as a target variable, among others, to classify monolingual child Spanish-speakers (N = 40) as SLI or as typically-developing (TD). Results: The SLI group is shown to have significantly higher scores than the TD group on null subject expression. Multiple discriminant functions, including the null subject variable with tense measures, and in combination with mean length of utterance in words (MLUw), are shown to provide good sensitivity and specificity (<90%) in the classification of children as SLI vs. TD. Conclusion: Our findings support the contention that null subject occurrence is a plausible reflection of the Interface Deficit of SLI for Spanish-speaking children. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Examining the Collocational Knowledge of Libyan Arabic-Speaking Learners of English in Different Learning Environments: Classroom Learning vs. Naturalistic Learning
Received: 14 November 2017 / Revised: 20 April 2018 / Accepted: 26 April 2018 / Published: 7 May 2018
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Abstract
The recognition that collocation is an important, yet challenging, variable in second language development has attracted extensive research into how to enhance collocation learning. This study examines the collocational knowledge of Libyan Arabic-speaking learners of English by focusing on the influence of two
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The recognition that collocation is an important, yet challenging, variable in second language development has attracted extensive research into how to enhance collocation learning. This study examines the collocational knowledge of Libyan Arabic-speaking learners of English by focusing on the influence of two main factors, the learning environment and the native language (L1), since it has been claimed that these factors affect L2 collocation development. Unlike previous studies on collocations which have largely focused on testing classroom learners, this study compares the use of English collocations by both naturalistic learners and classroom learners to explore which learning environment enhances collocation development more. Thirty-six Libyan learners participated in this study (18 formal classroom learners and 18 informal naturalistic learners); they were asked to complete production and reception tests of English collocations. A questionnaire and a vocabulary recognition task (VRT) were additionally used to facilitate interpretation of the data, by eliciting information about learners’ degrees of exposure to informal, naturalistic English and their knowledge of the individual words in collocations. The results showed that collocations are a problematic aspect of language for all L2 learners in the study. However, a naturalistic setting was found to provide a better learning environment for collocation development than a classroom setting. Additionally, the native language of the learner was also found to have an effect on their L2 collocational knowledge. This influence had more of a positive effect on naturalistic learners’ knowledge, and a more negative effect on classroom learners’ knowledge. The findings also revealed a strong correlation between learners’ collocational knowledge and their amount of exposure to informal, naturalistic English. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Acquisition of L2 French Object Pronouns by Advanced Anglophone Learners
Received: 22 December 2017 / Revised: 19 April 2018 / Accepted: 19 April 2018 / Published: 3 May 2018
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Abstract
The role native language transfer plays in L2 acquisition raises the question of whether L1 constitutes a permanent representational deficit to mastery of the L2 morphosyntax and prosody or if it can eventually be overcome. Earlier research has shown that beginning and low
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The role native language transfer plays in L2 acquisition raises the question of whether L1 constitutes a permanent representational deficit to mastery of the L2 morphosyntax and prosody or if it can eventually be overcome. Earlier research has shown that beginning and low intermediate Anglophone L2 French learners are insensitive to French morphosyntactic and prosodic constraints in using in situ pronouns transferred from the L1. The prosodic transfer hypothesis (PTH) proposes that native prosodic structures may be adapted to facilitate acquisition of L2 prosodic structure. Our study presents new evidence from three Anglophone advanced learners of L2 French that indicates ceiling performance for pronoun production (99% accuracy in 300 tokens over nine interviews) and grammaticality judgment (98% accuracy). This native-like performance demonstrates target French morphosyntax and prosody, built—as predicted by the PTH—by licensing pronominal free clitics in a new pre-verbal L2 position distinct from post-verbal L1. Furthermore, the learners’ data confirms accurate prosody by way of appropriate prominence patterns in clitic + host sequences, correct use of clitics with prefixed verbs, use of stacked pronouns, as well as correct prosodic alternations involving liaison and elision. These results counter impaired representation approaches and suggest early missing inflection may be overcome. Full article
Open AccessArticle On Convergence, Ongoing Language Change, and Crosslinguistic Influence in Direct Object Expression in Catalan–Spanish Bilingualism
Received: 14 December 2017 / Revised: 18 April 2018 / Accepted: 19 April 2018 / Published: 27 April 2018
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Abstract
The present study explores two morphological differences in direct object expression between Spanish and Catalan: Differential Object Marking (DOM), and the accusative clitics el /l/ vs. ho /u/. Both phenomena are regulated by semantic features, such as animacy and specificity/definiteness. The study experimentally
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The present study explores two morphological differences in direct object expression between Spanish and Catalan: Differential Object Marking (DOM), and the accusative clitics el /l/ vs. ho /u/. Both phenomena are regulated by semantic features, such as animacy and specificity/definiteness. The study experimentally tested 57 Catalan–Spanish bilinguals with different degrees of language dominance in their comprehension and production of these Catalan constructions in order to explore the degree of structural convergence. The results show that with respect to DOM, bilinguals systematically accept ample optionality, creating a new language variety, the bilingual variety, with properties similar and different from both Spanish and Catalan. With respect to the accusative clitics, a certain degree of functional interference in the grammar of Spanish-dominant bilinguals is found. These results illustrate, on the one hand, structural convergence in DOM, culminating in an internal language change accelerated by language contact, and, on the other hand, incipient language transfer from the dominant language in the expression of accusative clitics. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Does Typological Proximity Really Matter? Evidence from Mandarin and Brazilian Portuguese-Speaking Learners of Spanish
Received: 30 December 2017 / Revised: 12 April 2018 / Accepted: 12 April 2018 / Published: 25 April 2018
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Abstract
The present study examines the role of typological proximity in the acquisition of Differential Object Marking (DOM) in Spanish among eighteen (n = 18) Mandarin-speaking second language (L2) learners and sixteen (n = 16) Spanish heritage speakers (HSs) with Brazilian Portuguese
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The present study examines the role of typological proximity in the acquisition of Differential Object Marking (DOM) in Spanish among eighteen (n = 18) Mandarin-speaking second language (L2) learners and sixteen (n = 16) Spanish heritage speakers (HSs) with Brazilian Portuguese (BP) as their dominant language. Specifically, we investigate the extent to which language proximity (languages are members of the same family) plays a role in the complete specification of the relevant features constraining DOM marking in Spanish. Results from an elicited production task and an acceptability judgment task (AJT) showed no support for the typological proximity model (Rothman 2010). There were also no age of onset of acquisition effects, in contrast to what was expected. The post-puberty Mandarin L2 learners outperformed the BP HSs in most of the conditions examined, suggesting a role for language instruction. Results are discussed along the lines of Liceras and Alba de la Fuente’s (2015) proposal whereby the locus of transfer is more related to the typological similarity between the languages at the microparametric level than to language proximity itself. Full article
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Open AccessArticle The Mixed Effects of Phonetic Input Variability on Relative Ease of L2 Learning: Evidence from English Learners’ Production of French and Spanish Stop-Rhotic Clusters
Received: 9 January 2018 / Revised: 9 April 2018 / Accepted: 13 April 2018 / Published: 24 April 2018
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Abstract
We examined the consequences of within-category phonetic variability in the input on non-native learners’ production accuracy. Following previous empirical research on the L2 acquisition of phonetics and the lexicon, we tested the hypothesis that phonetic variability facilitates learning by analyzing English-speaking learners’ production
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We examined the consequences of within-category phonetic variability in the input on non-native learners’ production accuracy. Following previous empirical research on the L2 acquisition of phonetics and the lexicon, we tested the hypothesis that phonetic variability facilitates learning by analyzing English-speaking learners’ production of French and Spanish word-medial stop-rhotic clusters, which differ from their English counterparts in terms of stop and rhotic voicing and manner. Crucially, for both the stops and rhotics, there are differences in within-language variability. Twenty native speakers per language and 39 L1 English-learners of French (N = 20) and Spanish (N = 19) of intermediate and advanced proficiency performed a carrier-sentence reading task. A given parameter was deemed to have been acquired when the learners’ production fell within the range of attested native speaker values. An acoustic analysis of the data partially supports the facilitative effect of phonetic variability. To account for the unsupported hypotheses, we discuss a number of issues, including the difficulty of measuring variability, the need to determine the extent to which learners’ perception shapes intake, and the challenge of teasing apart the effects of input variability from those of transferred L1 articulatory patterns. Full article
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Open AccessArticle The Interpretation of Pronouns across Spanish-Speaking Populations
Received: 24 December 2017 / Revised: 10 April 2018 / Accepted: 11 April 2018 / Published: 20 April 2018
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Abstract
In this paper, we will present data from both Spanish acquisition and aphasia on the Pronoun Interpretation Problem (PIP), according to which children allow pronouns to be identified with local c-commanding antecedents. Although it has recently been claimed that the PIP is, to
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In this paper, we will present data from both Spanish acquisition and aphasia on the Pronoun Interpretation Problem (PIP), according to which children allow pronouns to be identified with local c-commanding antecedents. Although it has recently been claimed that the PIP is, to a great extent, an experimental artifact, there are good reasons to believe that there is something “real” in the effect. As with many phenomena from acquisition, researchers have tried to explain this development in terms of “learning”, or more concretely, in terms of “parameter setting”. Children either must set the right local domain for the application of Principle B or they must set a +/− Principle B parameter. However, considering the PIP as an acquisition problem is problematic since it is difficult to see how children can converge on the target grammar without negative evidence. In this paper, we will defend an alternative approach, according to which the PIP is portrayed as the result of interplay between properties of predicates and different kinds of pronouns on the one hand, and language processing factors on the other. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Language Mixing in the Nominal Phrase: Implications of a Distributed Morphology Perspective
Received: 14 January 2018 / Revised: 6 April 2018 / Accepted: 9 April 2018 / Published: 12 April 2018
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Abstract
This paper investigates a pattern found in Spanish–English mixed language corpora whereby it is common to switch from a Spanish determiner to an English noun (e.g., la house, ‘the house’), but rare to switch from an English determiner to a Spanish noun
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This paper investigates a pattern found in Spanish–English mixed language corpora whereby it is common to switch from a Spanish determiner to an English noun (e.g., la house, ‘the house’), but rare to switch from an English determiner to a Spanish noun (e.g., the casa, ‘the house’). Unlike previous theoretical accounts of this asymmetry, that which is proposed here follows assumptions of the Distributed Morphology (DM) framework, specifically those regarding the relationship between grammatical gender and nominal declension class in Spanish. Crucially, and again in contrast to previous accounts, it is demonstrated that this approach predicts no such asymmetry for French–English. This hypothesis is tested experimentally using an acceptability judgment task with self-paced reading, and as expected, no evidence is found for an asymmetry. This experiment is also used to test predictions regarding how English nominal roots in mixed nominal phrases are assigned grammatical gender, and the impact of language background factors such as age of acquisition. Evidence is found that bilinguals attempt to assign analogical gender if possible, but that late sequential bilinguals have a stronger preference for this option than do simultaneous bilinguals. Full article
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Open AccessEditorial Languages Will Apply a Double-Blind Review Process
Received: 29 March 2018 / Revised: 29 March 2018 / Accepted: 29 March 2018 / Published: 29 March 2018
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Abstract
Peer review is an essential part in the publication process, and ensures that Languages maintains high quality standards for its published papers [...]
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Open AccessArticle Language Control and Code-switching
Received: 22 November 2017 / Revised: 7 March 2018 / Accepted: 22 March 2018 / Published: 28 March 2018
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Abstract
Analyses of corpus-based indices of conversational code-switching in bilingual speakers predict the occurrence of intra-sentential code-switches consistent with the joint activation of both languages. Yet most utterances contain no code-switches despite good evidence for the joint activation of both languages even in single
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Analyses of corpus-based indices of conversational code-switching in bilingual speakers predict the occurrence of intra-sentential code-switches consistent with the joint activation of both languages. Yet most utterances contain no code-switches despite good evidence for the joint activation of both languages even in single language utterances. Varying language activation levels is an insufficient mechanism to explain the variety of language use. We need a model of code-switching, consistent with the joint activation of both languages, which permits the range of language use in bilingual speakers. I treat overt speech as the outcome of a number of competitive processes governed by a set of control processes external to the language networks. In a conversation, the speech of the other person may “trigger” code-switches consistent with bottom-up control. By contrast, the intentions of the speaker may act top-down to set the constraints on language use. Given this dual control perspective, the paper extends the control process model (Green and Wei 2014) to cover a plausible neurocomputational basis for the construction and execution of utterance plans in code-switching. Distinct control states mediate different types of language use with switching frequency as a key parameter in determining the control state for code-switches. The paper considers the nature of these states and their transitions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Code-Switching)
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