ADULT L2 ACQUISITION OF REFLEXIVE VERBS IN RUSSIAN AND POLISH
From previous research, perceptual saliency and morphophonological and morphosyntactic regularity significantly contribute to a successful acquisition of morphemes (Goldschneider & DeKeyser 2001). This pilot study investigates if and to what extent these features are predictors in the acquisition of reflexive verbs in adult L2 Polish and Russian. Despite these languages being closely related, their reflexive verbs differ dramatically. Polish uses a particle siẹ that has a high sonority value and can be freely placed in a sentence. Russian uses a reflexive affix which is placed directly after the finite verb ending and has two phonetically reduced variants -sja and -s’ that depend on the phonological context. In this pilot study, we hypothesized that i) perceptual saliency (understood as higher sonority and a prominent position in a sentence) facilitated perception and sentence repetition; ii) morphosyntactic regularity and predictability positively affected written production. Two groups of Dutch first-year students learning Russian and Polish respectively as L2 at the University of Amsterdam were recruited. Russian and Polish native speakers served as controls. In order to test perception/comprehension and (re)production of reflexive verbs in L2, a sentence repetition task (SRT) was used. The task consisted of 15 target sentences and 10 distractors for each language (syllable length: 17–22), and was administered in e-prime. The sentence position of the target structure and semantic categories of reflexive verbs were controlled. In order to test written production, a sentence translation task (STT) was developed that contained 15 Dutch items. For the controls, accuracy in both tasks was at ceiling. The Dutch-L2 groups performed significantly worse. The accuracy scores on target structures in SRT were better in Polish (61% vs. 40%). In the STT, the Russian L2 students outperformed the Polish L2 participants (84% vs. 58%). The results of this study support the idea that perceptual saliency and morphophonological uniformity affect perception and (re)production, while morphosyntactic regularity and predictability (boundness) is relevant for written production.
International Burch University