Cross-linguistic influence at the level of Word order in L3 English by L1 Georgian/L2 Russian speakers.


Abstract  Studies on cross-linguistics influence (CLI) have focused on whether and how previously acquired languages affect the acquisition of subsequent languages at different linguistic levels such as vocabulary, grammar, phonetics and syntax (Ringbom, 1987; Dewaele, 1998; Williams & Hammarberg, 1998; Cenoz, 2001; Flynn, Foley, & Vinnitskaya, 2004). In contrast to the vast number of studies on CLI, the present study investigates the acquisition of word order focusing on the OV/VO parameter (Neelemann and Weerman 1999) in main and embedded clauses in three typologically unrelated languages: Georgian (OV), Russian (VO) and English (VO). Although English and Russian share the VO word order, Russian allows alternative word orders more freely than English which shows a rigid VO word order. Data were collected from L1 Georgian and L1/L2 Georgian/Russian adolescent and adult learners of L3 English (n = 53) with a proficiency level of A2, as established by a language level placement test. For all learners English was learned at school as a foreign language. The instruments used involved a grammaticality judgment task and a translation task with matrix and embedded clause stimuli. The statistical analyses showed no significant differences on either task between the L1 Georgian and L1 Georgian/Russian groups of adolescents and adults, which might suggest the absence of transfer at this stage of acquisition. These results are discussed in the light of three models which have been proposed in the literature on CLI: 1) The Cumulative Enhancement Model (Flynn, Foley, & Vinnitskaya, 2004) according to which transfer may come from the L1 and/or the L2, but it is always facilitative; 2) The Typological Primacy Model (Rothman, 2011) predicts transfer from the structurally and psychotypologically similar language (either L1 or L2) to the L3; and 3) The L2 Status Factor Hypothesis (Bardel & Falk, 2007) which allows morphosyntactic transfer from the last system acquired (i.e. the L2).

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