Spanish, Turkish, Japanese and Chinese L2 learners’ acquisition of generic reference

Neal Snape, María del Pilar García Mayo, Ayse Gürel.
Book Title
Proceedings of the 10th Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition (GASLA) Conference
M. Bowles, T. Ionin, S. Montrul & A. Trembley (eds.).
1 - 8
Cascadilla Press

The aim of the paper is to present new data in L2 English article choice relating to generic reference. The cross-linguistic data comes from Spanish, Turkish, Japanese and Mandarin Chinese intermediate and advanced L2 learners of English. The authors predicted that there would be differences in article choice, on a forced choice elicitation task, between each L1 group due to L1 transfer effects and level of proficiency in the L2. The findings revealed that the Spanish L2 learners had least difficulty in selecting the appropriate article, whereas the Japanese had the most difficulty in choosing the correct article. The Turkish and Chinese L2 learners’ article choices were more accurate than the Japanese groups despite all three L1s lacking articles. The authors suggest that morpholexical equivalents in Turkish and Chinese may play a role in bootstrapping the acquisition of L2 articles.