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A comparison of L2 and L1 speakers’ production of adverb positions in the Cardiff variety of Welsh

Bethan Lines

Article ID: 1451
Vol 4, Issue 1, 2022, Article identifier:1-17

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The grammaticality of adverb positions varies by language. Consequently, L2 and L1 speakers may differ from each other in their acquisition of adverb positions. Given that L2 Welsh speakers outnumber L1 Welsh speakers in Wales, differences in acquisition may change which adverb positions occur in contemporary Welsh. This study compares which adverb positions L2 and L1 speakers produce in the spoken data from Cardiff in the CorCenCC corpus (Knight et al., 2020) in order to identify any differences in acquisition. Comparisons of L2 and L1 English speakers find that L2 speakers consistently acquire novel adverb positions yet they frequently use ungrammatical adverb positions. They also do not acquire additional constraints on adverb positions. This study largely reinforces these findings. First, L2 Welsh speakers produce every adverb position that L1 speakers produce. Secondly, although the definiteness constraint that Borsley et al. (2009: 50) describe is not productive in the sample of Cardiff Welsh speakers, L1 speakers exhibit a heaviness constraint on V-Adv-O that L2 speakers do not. Therefore, L1 transfer neither inhibits the acquisition of adverb positions nor facilitates the acquisition of additional constraints. However, unlike L2 English speakers, L2 Welsh speakers do not produce ungrammatical adverb positions. This likely derives from the lack of transferable adverb positions between Welsh and English rather than a lack of transfer. Therefore, this sample of Cardiff Welsh reinforces the crosslinguistic consistency of L2 speakers’ acquisition of adverb positions. It also suggests that L2 Welsh speakers most likely diverge from L1 speakers in the contexts in which they use adverb positions rather than the adverb positions that they use. 


second language acquisition; adverbs; syntax; Welsh; corpus study

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