Research Paper

To Inflect or Not to Inflect Is the Question Indeed: Infinitives in Second Language (L2) Portuguese

Abstract

In light of the predictions of two competing approaches to adult L2 acquisition – Full Access (FA) (e.g., White 1989, 2003; Schwartz & Sprouse 1996) and Failed Features (FF) (e.g., Hawkins & Chan 1997; Liceras & Díaz, 1999) – the present study examines the acquisition of inflected infinitives by English and Spanish/English bilingual adult learners of L2 Portuguese. Target-like acquisition of inflected infinitives requires the resetting of both a syntactic parameter (the Null Subject Parameter) and a morphological parameter (the Infl-parameter) for these learners. Since FF approaches maintain a post-critical period failure to acquire new L2 features lacking from the L1, target-like acquisition is predicted to not be possible. Conversely, FA approaches, which maintain adult parameter resetting is possible, predict that native-like competence of inflected infinitives is attainable, but not inevitably so. The data we present support FA approaches, demonstrating that advanced adult learners achieve native-like interpretative knowledge of Portuguese inflected infinitives. We also consider the role of L1 transfer and its possible implications, as they differ for both groups.

How to Cite

Rothman J. & Iverson M., (2007) “To Inflect or Not to Inflect Is the Question Indeed: Infinitives in Second Language (L2) Portuguese”, Journal of Portuguese Linguistics 6(2), p.3-28. doi: https://doi.org/10.5334/jpl.138

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Authors

Jason Rothman (University of Iowa, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, 111 Phillips Hall, Iowa City, IA 52242)
Michael Iverson (University of Iowa, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, 111 Phillips Hall, Iowa City, IA 52242)

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

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This article has been peer reviewed.

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