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Fossilization in steady state L2 grammars: Persistent problems with inflectional morphology

  • LYDIA WHITE (a1)


This paper provides a case study of the fossilized endstate L2 English grammar of an adult native speaker of Turkish. Results are presented from production data (over 3400 utterances, gathered over 2 time periods 18 months apart), concentrating on verbal and nominal inflection and associated syntactic properties; data from a number of other tasks are also presented. A high level of accuracy in suppliance of English tense and agreement morphology was found. In contrast, suppliance of definite and indefinite articles was significantly lower but nevertheless appropriate. Syntactic correlates (such as verb placement, presence of overt subjects, case assignment, definiteness effects) were all completely accurate, suggesting no underlying impairment to functional categories or features. There is some evidence for influence from the L1, which has rich inflection but lacks articles, but this appears to be an effect on suppliance of overt morphology and not on underlying representation, which shows properties appropriate to the L2.


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Address for correspondence Department of Linguistics, McGill University, 1085 Dr. Penfield, Montreal, Québec, Canada H3A 1A7 E-mail:


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This research was conducted with support from the Gouvernement du Québec: Fonds de recherche sur la societé et la culture (grant no. 2001-ER-66973) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (grant no. 410-2001-0719). I am most grateful to SD for her participation and cooperation in this study. I should like to thank the following graduate students for their assistance: Simone Conradie, Theres Gruter, Ayse Gürel, Yuhko Kayama, Yan-kit Ingrid Leung, Martyna Kozlowska-Macgregor, Jeffrey Steele, Elena Valenzuela and Myunghyun Yoo. Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the Interdisciplinary Workshop on Bilingualism and Brain Plasticity, Trieste, March 2001, and at the Boston University Conference on Language Development, November 2001.



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