This study presents new empirical evidence on the L2 acquisition of Spanish SV-VS contrasts, a syntax-pragmatics interface phenomenon. Results from a context-dependant preference task involving unergative and unaccusative verbs in different focus situations (broad and narrow focus) reveal that beginner and intermediate English speakers prefer SV in all contexts. In contrast, advanced learners, who clearly know that VS is possible in Spanish, show a pattern of optionality with unergative verbs (in both broad and narrow focus contexts), whereas VS is correctly preferred with unaccusative verbs in both broad and narrowly-focused contexts. We argue that these results can be explained by a representational deficit according to which the VS order is overgeneralized to unergative verbs regardless of the discursive situation. We argue that learners’ overuse of VS structures is exacerbated by the lack of clear evidence for the use of SV and VS forms in the native input
To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.