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On transfer in SLA of German weak pronouns
11. Norddeutsches Linguistisches Kolloquium (NLK2010 Hamburg)
Hamburg, 5. - 6. März 2010
This study investigates second language acquisition of object weak pronouns in old information contexts in German by adult Italian Native Speakers. Provided that Italian and German differ in their pronominal systems and select different types of pronouns in old information contexts, the hypothesis was investigated whether the Italian L2 learners of German use pronouns clitic-like, then transferring the Italian choice into German, or rather use strong pronouns. Based on an oral grammaticality judgment task and an elicited production task, data show that our L2 learners place pronouns in positions dedicated to strong elements and that their accuracy on pronoun placement (i.e. use of target weak pronouns) increases dependently on their level of proficiency of the target language. In fact, results show that acquisition of target placement of pronouns proceeds through stages similar to those found for the acquisition of cliticization in Romance languages (e.g. Towell and Hawkins 1994, Herschensohn 2004).
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