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Title: The acquisition of tense and aspect in L2 English by Spanish speakers
Author: Gaspar García, Belén
ISNI:       0000 0004 2734 8955
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2012
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The acquisition of tense and aspect phenomena by second language (L2) speakers has been the source of considerable interest to researchers for the light it throws on how they acquire new morphosyntactic forms and the interpretations assigned to those forms. Broadly adopting the theoretical perspective of Universal Grammar (although also considering the functionalist claims of the Aspect Hypothesis), the present study investigates knowledge of the forms and meanings of the simple past, present perfect and simple present by L 1 Spanish speakers at two proficiency levels, intermediate and advanced. Special attention is paid to the semantic properties of these three tense forms and how grammaticalising the same temporallaspectual distinctions in the L 1 might aid their acquisition. By the advanced level, the simple past and present have largely been acquired. The present perfect, on the other hand, proved to be of greater complexity. Results indicate that different form-meaning mappings have an impact on L2 performance, even when the same distinctions are grammaticalised in the native and target languages. It is shown that analysing the different perfect readings separately offers a new perspective and suggests that not all L2 learners might be treating the PF in a unitary fashion. In particular, differences were found between speakers of Latin American and European varieties of Spanish. Underlying semantic properties are shown to be an additional factor affecting all participants. It is thus argued that both L 1 transfer and properties specific to each tense form are necessary to account for the observed data. In addition, production data presents greater divergence from the target than comprehension. It is hypothesised that integrating knowledge at the syntax-semantics-pragmatics interface to access the appropriate form-meaning mappings is subject to greater computational demands in production tasks
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available