T2-verwerving van lidwoorden: de rol van specificiteit en possessiviteit
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of specificity (defined as speaker’s intent to refer) and possessivity in the second language (L2) acquisition of English articles by adult speakers of a native language (L1) with no articles. Following the specificity hypothesis by Ionin, Ko & Wexler (2004) it was predicted that these L2 learners of English would overuse the definite article ‘the’ in specific indefinite contexts instead of ‘a’. The other prediction, based on Le Bruyn’s (2012) possessivity hypothesis, was that they would make the same mistake in contexts where a possessive should be used. These hypotheses were tested using an elicitation task and an acceptability judgment task. The participants were L1 speakers of Mandarin. The results revealed that in the specific contexts, the participants overused ‘the’ much more in cases where the target DP could be considered unique. This observation questions the role of specificity and strongly suggests that the L2 learners associate uniqueness with definiteness. Little could be concluded from the results of the possessive contexts, as the implicit language-specific knowledge was possibly overridden by a statistical learning method in this experiment. The fact that most DP’s used in the test items occur together with a possessive regularly would have caused this.