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The Primacy of Aspect

Aspectual Marking in English Interlanguage

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 November 2008

Richard E. Robison
Affiliation:
University of California, Los Angeles

Abstract

Studies of first and second language acquisition have indicated that when verbal morphemes first appear, they tend to mark aspectual distinctions in non-native-like ways. This study tested the hypothesis that in L2 acquisition, verbal morphemes initially mark lexical aspect—the temporal features inherent in the semantics of a predicate, independent of the time line—regardless of their function in the target language. To reduce the subjectivity that has weakened previous studies, operational tests—which entailed inserting a base-form verb phrase into a frame and then judging whether the result is acceptable—were used to determine lexical aspect for each of over 550 verb tokens in the corpus, based on an interlanguage sample from a native speaker of Spanish. The results of a chi-square test allow rejection of the null hypothesis—that lexical aspect and morphology are independent—at the .001 confidence level. Past marking was found to correlate with punctual aspect, -ing with durative.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1990

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