The role of L1 influence in the acquisition of negative concord in adult second language learning
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The present study examines the L1 influence on the adult acquisition of the negative concord parameter (two negative elements that agree to form a sentential negation without canceling each other) between the following groups of learners: (1) two groups of second language learners whose first and target languages are typologically similar (Lusophone and Hispanophone learners of Spanish and Portuguese respectively), and (2) two groups of learners whose first and target languages are typologically different (Anglophone learners of Spanish and Portuguese). The study compares the scores of the groups, and focuses on two goals: (1) to investigate the influence of L1 transfer on the acquisition of the negative concord parameter in adult L2 learners when the first and target languages are typologically similar and different, and (2) to attempt to find a correlation between L2 learners’ level of awareness on the similarities and differences of the negative concord parameter between languages, and its effect on their overall performance of the task. A total of 135 participants responded to a grammaticality judgment task, and independent sample t tests were used to determine whether there were differences between the groups. The results indicate that adult L2 learners of languages that are typologically similar to their native languages perform better than those adult L2 learners whose languages are typologically different than their native languages. The results imply that L1 transfer facilitates the acquisition of the negative concord parameter for adult second language learners when languages are typologically similar, which is relevant to current research on the developmental stages of L2 acquisition. As far as their level of awareness during the task, the results could not indicate whether or not there was any correlation between learners’ awareness of the grammatical typological similarities and differences of the languages involved and their overall performance on the task. It was also observed that learners responded in unpredictable ways to the specific question of their state of awareness during the task, which left the study inconclusive with regards to the level of these L2 learners’ consciousness.