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L1 transfer in the acquisition of manner and path in Spanish by native speakers of English

By Pilar Larrañaga, Jeanine Treffers-Daller, Françoise Tidball and Mari-carmen Gil Ortega


In this article the authors argue that L1 transfer from English is not only important in the early stages of L2 acquisition of Spanish, but remains influential in later stages if there is not enough positive evidence for the learners to progress in their development (Lefebvre, White, & Jourdan, 2006). The findings are based on analyses of path and manner of movement in stories told by British students of Spanish (N = 68) of three different proficiency levels. Verbs that conflate motion and path, on the one hand, are mastered early, possibly because the existence of Latinate path verbs, such as enter and ascend in English, facilitate their early acquisition by British learners of Spanish. Contrary to the findings of Cadierno (2004) and Cadierno and Ruiz (2006), the encoding of manner, in particular in boundary crossing contexts, seems to pose enormous difficulties, even among students who had been abroad on a placement in a Spanish-speaking country prior to the data collection. An analysis of the frequency of manner verbs in Spanish corpora shows that one of the key reasons why students struggle with manner is that manner verbs are so infrequent in Spanish. The authors claim that scarce positive evidence in the language exposed to and little or no negative evidence are responsible for the long-lasting effect of transfer on the expression of manner

Publisher: Sage
Year: 2012
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