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Title:Cross-linguistic influence in the acquisition of Brazilian Portuguese as a third language
Author(s):Santos, Helade
Director of Research:Montrul, Silvina A.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Montrul, Silvina A.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Ionin, Tania; MacDonald, Jonathan; Foote, Rebecca
Department / Program:Spanish Italian and Portuguese
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):third language (L3) acquisition
Brazilian Portuguese
double object construction
Abstract:This dissertation investigates the acquisition of properties of the dative alternation in Brazilian Portuguese (BP) by L1 Spanish/L2 English and L1 English/L2 Spanish speakers who are learning Portuguese as a third language (L3). This work contributes to a better understanding of which factors determine cross-linguistic influence in the multilingual mind and what the role of previously acquired languages is in the acquisition of any language beyond the L2. The three languages of the multilingual participants have dative alternation, although it presents different properties in each language. English verbs with two internal arguments can alternate between a prepositional object construction (POC), which consists of a V DP PP, as in Mary bought a gift for John; and a double object construction (DOC), which consists of a V DP DP, as in Mary bought John a gift. DOCs are also present in Spanish (Demonte 1995, Masullo 1992, Bruhn de Garavito 2000, Cuervo 2003) and Portuguese (Torres Morais 2006, Torres Morais & Salles 2010). In these languages DOCs consist of structures with dative clitics and/or DPs marked for dative case by the dative case marker a, as in María le compró un regalo a Juan ‘María DAT CL bought a gift DAT case marker Juan.’ DOCs can alternate with POCs in Spanish and Portuguese as well, but there are cross-linguistic differences not only in grammatical encoding but also in productivity of DOCs in English, Spanish and BP. First, this study provides an analysis of properties of the dative alternation in BP based on empirical data collected from BP native speakers in two different studies. Results of two written acceptability judgment tasks and an oral picture description task have shown that 1st person dative clitics with the role of goal are still productive in written and oral discourses. Third person dative clitics and datives with the roles of benefactive and source are accepted in written and formal register but are not produced in oral and colloquial discourse by BP native speakers. Possessor datives are no longer available in the BP grammar. This indicates that BP is losing the 3rd person dative clitic and the possibility of expressing 1st and 2nd person indirect objects with dative clitics when they are not core arguments of the verb. Second, a written grammaticality judgment task, a written acceptability judgment task and an oral picture description task were used to test L3 BP learners’ knowledge of the dative alternation in BP and transfer from either Spanish or English. The L3 learners’ intuitions and oral production in BP were compared to their perception of distance between Spanish and Portuguese and English and Portuguese. Perception of language distance was assessed using a language distance questionnaire. Results demonstrate that the L3 BP learners have acquired properties of the dative alternation in BP but still made errors and over-accepted ungrammatical constructions in BP. Negative and positive transfer from both Spanish and English was attested. A comparison between the results of the linguistic tasks and the answers to the language distance questionnaire indicates that amount of transfer is not related to perception of language distance. Based on the results of the present study, it is proposed that multilingual speakers transfer from the steady-state system of any previously learned language and language transfer may have positive as well as negative effects. It is also hypothesized that whether and which previously acquired linguistic systems will be activated in the multilingual mind and will be more likely to influence the acquisition and use of the L3 depends on a dynamic process. Different factors can interact and determine processes of language transfer, including but not limited to order of acquisition, language proximity and level of proficiency in the L2 and the L3.
Issue Date:2014-01-16
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Helade Santos
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-01-16
Date Deposited:2013-12

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