French adversative dative clitics in L2 acquisition: The search for a semantic role
Task 1:Jean, Marie lui a mangé tout le fromage.
Jean, Marie Dat-cl have eaten all the chese
*Jean, Marie lui a mangé pour couper sa faim.
Jean, Marie Dat-cl have eaten to surpressherhunger
- Different views on acquisition of new functional categories, not instantiated in L1:
- Full Functional Representation position (Slabakova, 2003; Lardiere2009)
- Fundamental Difference Hypothesis (Bley-Vroman, 1990); No Parameter Resetting (Hawkins and Chan, 1997).
- L2 acquisition at the syntax-semantics interface: If UG-constrained grammatical restructuring is possible, then how do “new” morphemes find semantic functions in an L2?
Story: Negatively affected referent
Jean’s mother is very concerned about his health. She always tells him to put on a hat when it is cold outside. However, last week Jean did not listen and left without a hat. As a result he got sick. His mother was very upset.
Story: No negatively affected referent
Jean always checks the weather online. However, a couple of days ago when Jean was about to check the weather, the mailman came and Jean forgot to look up the weather and left the house not dressed appropriately. As a result he got sick. Yesterday when the mail man came Jean did not open the door.
C’est que Jean lui a attrapé un rhume.
It’s just that Jean Dat-cl has caught a cold
No adversative clitic:
C’est que Jean a attrapé un rhume.
It’s just that Jean has caught a cold
Task 1: Grammaticality Judgment Task
- Adversative dative
- In French the adversative dative clitic does not alternate with a full DP/PP but introduces a referent affected by the event.
- Les invités lui ont mangé tout ce qu’il y avait dans le frigo.
- the guests Dat-cl have eaten all Dem that there was in the fridge
- The guests ate everything in the fridge on him/her.
- The clitic is the exponent of a high applicative functional
- head(Roberge and Troberg, 2009), absent in English clause structure (Pylkkänen 2008).
- Restrictionon adversative datives:
- need a VP internal DP (the
- operator merged in the specifier
- must be bound by some
- VP-internal referential DP).
- Found in colloquial French, adversative dative is not taught in L2 classrooms, presenting a severe acquisition challenge.
- Learning tasks:
- lL2 earners must access a new functional category,
- associate it with the appropriate semantics,
- include it in the functional lexicon for L2.
Discussion & Conclusions
- Native speakers:
- demonstrated the expected contrast (p<.05) between grammatical and ungrammatical uses of the adversative dative clitic (task 1).
- demonstrated a marginally statistically significant contrast (p<0.1) for contextual appropriateness of the adversative clitic (task 2).
- L2 Learners Grammaticality:
- Advanced L2 learners, although different from natives, demonstrated a marginally statistically significant contrast between grammatical and ungrammatical uses of adversative clitics (p<0.1)
- L2 Learners Semantics:
- Even the most advanced L2 learners were not sensitive to the contextual requirements for adversative clitics.
- Acquisition of morphology precedes acquisition of semantics, providing further evidence for the “bottleneck” status of morphological markers in L2A.
Task 2: Contextualized acceptability judgment
Methodology & Participants
- 2 tasks:
- Grammaticality judgment task (5 per condition, 20 fillers)
- Contextualized acceptability task (6 per condition, 28 fillers)
- Proficiency: Cloze test (Renaud, 2010)