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Languages 2018, 3(2), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages3020015

Acquisition of L2 French Object Pronouns by Advanced Anglophone Learners

1
Department of Linguistics, University of Washington, Box 352425, Seattle, WA 98195-2425, USA
2
Department of French, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, ON K1S 5B6, Canada
3
School of Linguistics and Language Studies, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, ON K1S 5B6, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
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 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. View Full-Text
Keywords: second language acquisition; native language transfer; French object pronouns; advanced learners; prosodic transfer hypothesis; French object clitics; strong pronouns second language acquisition; native language transfer; French object pronouns; advanced learners; prosodic transfer hypothesis; French object clitics; strong pronouns
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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Herschensohn, J.; Gess, R. Acquisition of L2 French Object Pronouns by Advanced Anglophone Learners. Languages 2018, 3, 15.

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