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Open AccessArticle

On the Acceptance of the Null That by Bilingual Catalan/Spanish L2 Learners of English

1
Department of English and Germanic Philology, Autonomous University of Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain
2
Department of Translation and Language Sciences, Pompeu Fabra University, 08018 Barcelona, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Languages 2019, 4(2), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages4020030
Received: 25 February 2019 / Revised: 12 May 2019 / Accepted: 21 May 2019 / Published: 30 May 2019
The research presented in this article aims at providing new data on L2 learner knowledge and recognition of the null that in complement clauses. The speech of English native speakers reveals a kind of variation which implies that where that may be present or absent in clauses selected by many common verbs such as say or think there is no preference for one of the two options. In this article, judgement data of bilingual Catalan/Spanish upper-intermediate and advanced L2 learners of English are analysed bearing in mind two possible factors that, according to previous research, may influence the acceptance of this phenomenon, level of proficiency and absence versus presence of instruction. A relevant issue regarding this construction is that performing like a native does not always imply using one grammatical structure in the target language and gradually doing away with the use of another ungrammatical one; it rather implies being able to detect native speaker frequency in the use of one of the two possible options, overt that usage or the null that. Our results show that learning in this domain depends more on degree in language proficiency than in the specific instruction provided, that both choices do not pose the same difficulty and that advanced L2 learners of English can display a native-like acceptance of the null that option. The option that presents more challenges is the one where there is no L1 facilitation. View Full-Text
Keywords: second language acquisition; null that complementizer; overt that usage; L2 English; experimental judgement data second language acquisition; null that complementizer; overt that usage; L2 English; experimental judgement data
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Llinàs-Grau, M.; Bel, A. On the Acceptance of the Null That by Bilingual Catalan/Spanish L2 Learners of English. Languages 2019, 4, 30.

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