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Titolo: Universal Grammar and Second Language Acquisition
Data di pubblicazione: 2008
Abstract: This article investigates the Overt Pronoun Constraint (Montalbetti 1983) which postulates that in null argument (or pro-drop) languages, an overt pronoun cannot receive a bound variable interpretation, i.e. it cannot have a quantified expression – such as someone, everyone or a wh- phrase – as its antecedent. It may, however, have a referential antecedent, such as a previously mentioned person. The constraint on quantified antecedents applies to all null argument languages but not to a non-pro-drop language such as English. In 1997 Kanno conducted an experiment involving 28 speakers of overt argument L1 English who were learning null argument L2 Japanese. Although the subjects had received no instruction on the Overt Pronoun Contraint, it was found that 87% of the L2 learners of Japanese observed the OPC, a figure that Kanno considered to be compelling evidence that their interlanguage grammars were constrained by Universal Grammar. This work reports on a similar experiment involving English speakers with advanced competence in null argument L2 Italian in which the task was to identify the referents of null and overt subject pronouns. In this case 66% of the L2 Italian users observed the OPC. The lower percentage with respect to Kanno’s experiment may be attributed to the fact that the people concerned were language teachers and/or translators and had learnt through experience not to be too dogmatic about what is right or wrong in language use.
ISBN: 978-88-430-4600-3
Tipologia:2.1 Contributo in volume (Capitolo o Saggio)

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