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Detail of contribution

Auteur: Daniel GUTZMANN

Co-Auteur(s): Katharina TURGAY, Institue for German Studies, University of Landau, DE

Native language influence on PP acquisition in German

Abstract/Résumé: Due to its complex morpho-syntactic properties, the prepositional phrase (PP) constitutes a challenge for children in first and second language acquisition. The prototypical PP is headed by a preposition selecting for a DP. Beside using a determiner and correctly marking the morpho-syntactic features, the children have to learn to use a prepositional element as the head of the PP. Since the PP can be divided further into projections for PATH and PLACE (e.g. Cinque 2010), there are at least three functional elements to be acquired. In order to examine how those functional categories are acquired in L2 acquisition and whether their acquisition concurs to the hierarchical ordering and acquisition pattern of L1 acquisition of German, or whether a transfer from their L1 can be observed, we conducted an empirical study (consisting of different production tasks) with primary school children with Turkish or Italian L1, together with two control groups of children in L1 acquisition. In Turkish, spatial meanings are often expressed by case-marked NPs or various postpositions. There are no overt genuine determiners and NPs do not show gender. Italian uses prepositions and explicit determiners, but has no case marking in full DPs and only two genders. If there is an influence of the subjects’ L1 on their acquisition of the German PP, it is expected that the Turkish subjects omit determiners and prepositions more frequently, postpone prepositions and have problems with respect to gender marking. In contrast, the subjects with Italian L1 are expected to have more difficulties with case marking. The data of our study does not support an influence of L1. Even if the Turkish speaking subjects omit determiners and prepositions more often and make more errors with respect to gender, the differences to the Italian L1ers are not significant. We could neither attest any postponed preposition, which can be explained by a harmony principle on head parameters, as the FOFC of Biberauer et al. The Italian speakers do not make significantly more errors with respect to case marking. This does not speak for an influence of the L1 of the subjects. An additional outcome of our study is that across all subject groups, the order of acquisition does not concur to the hierarchical ordering of the functional projections, since the higher PlacePs are less error-prone than the lower PathPs. References Biberauer, T., A. Holmberg & I. Roberts. 2008. Structure and linearization in disharmonic word orders. WCCFL 26, 96–104. Cinque, G. 2010. Mapping spatial PPs: An introduction. In Guglielmo C. & Luigi R. (eds.), Mapping spatial PPs, 3-25. Oxford University Press.