Please join us Wednesday April 1st at 12:00pm in Education Building in Room 434 for Tokiko Okuma’s PhD Oral Defense. A reception will follow at 2:00pm in the Linguistics Department lounge.
Title: Overt Pronoun Constraint effects in second language Japanese
This dissertation investigates the applicability of the Full Transfer/Full Access hypothesis (FT/FA) (Schwartz & Sprouse, 1994, 1996) by investigating the interpretation of the Japanese pronoun (kare ‘he’) by adult English and Spanish speaking learners of Japanese.The Japanese, Spanish, and English languages differ with respect to interpretive properties of pronouns.
In Japanese and Spanish, overt pronouns disallow a bound variable interpretation in subject and object positions. By contrast, In English, overt pronouns may have a bound variable interpretation in these positions. This is called the Overt Pronoun Constraint (OPC) (Montalbetti, 1984).
The FT/FA model suggests that the initial state of L2 grammar is the end state of L1 grammar and that the restructuring of L2 grammar occurs with L2 input. This hypothesis predicts that L1 English speakers of L2 Japanese would initially allow a bound variable interpretation of Japanese pronouns in subject and object positions, transferring from their L1s. Nevertheless, they will successfully come to disallow a bound variable interpretation as their proficiency improves. In contrast, L1 Spanish speakers of L2 Japanese would correctly disallow a bound variable interpretation of Japanese pronouns in subject and object positions from the beginning.
In order to test these predictions, L1 English and L1 Spanish speakers of L2 Japanese at intermediate and advanced levels of proficiency were compared with native Japanese speakers in their interpretations of pronouns with quantified antecedents in two tasks. To make the comparison, the interpretation of pronouns with referential antecedents, which do not obey the constraint, was also investigated. The results support the FT/FA hypothesis in two respects. First, the intermediate English group accepted a bound variable interpretation of subject pronouns more often than the native Japanese speakers while the intermediate Spanish group did not. Moreover, the intermediate English group was not sensitive to the referential/quantified antecedent asymmetry in interpreting subject pronouns while the intermediate Spanish group showed sensitivity. These differences are attributable to their L1s, English, which does not demonstrate the OPC effects, and Spanish, which does, just like Japanese. Second, the advanced English group as well as the advanced Spanish group showed evidence of a target-like grammar, suggesting the OPC effects in their grammars. Given that the OPC effects are underdetermined in input, these results suggest that Universal Grammar (UG) is operative in L2 acquisition.