Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An interlanguage analysis of differential object marking in L2 Spanish
by Killam, Jason, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2011, 317; 3488206
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines the second language acquisition of marking patterns with human animate direct objects in Spanish. While variation is claimed to exist among native speakers, empirical research exploring the linguistic variables which describe native speaker use of object marking through a systematic variationist analysis is non-existent. In the current interdisciplinary investigation, insights from the fields of second language acquisition, sociolinguistics and syntax are incorporated to study the roles definiteness, number and verb kinesis play in the characterization of object marking in the developing interlanguage system, comparing this system with native speakers. The study involved 124 native speakers and learners from four proficiency levels. An oral task, a written task and a word order task were completed to provide cross-sectional data through which learner development could be described. The data was analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences 18.0. Results showed that while the frequency of use among low intermediate to low advanced levels was well below native speaker norms, the semantic feature of definiteness described learner use across all levels. On the oral and written tasks, the high advanced learners showed marking rates similar to native speakers, but subtle differences related to the linguistic factors studied were found depending on the task. Observations from the final task, when compared to the oral task, show that acquisition of object marking does not coincide with the acquisition of alternate word order structures in which object marking is used. The current study lends support to the systematic analysis of language through the variationist framework in order to describe variation found among native speakers and learners of Spanish. It also provides evidence, against previous claims, that learners are capable of acquiring semantic features related to object marking.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Geeslin, Kimberly L.
Commitee: Clements, J. Clancy, Diaz-Campos, Manuel, Stringer, David
School: Indiana University
Department: Spanish
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 73/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics, Modern language, Foreign Language
Keywords: Accusative a, Differential object marking, Marking patterns, Personal a, Second language acquisition, Spanish as a second language, Variation
Publication Number: 3488206
ISBN: 978-1-267-08063-9
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