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Academic Paper


Title: Object clitics and their omission in child L2 French: The contributions of processing limitations and L1 transfer
Author: Theres Grüter
Institution: University of Hawai'i at Mānoa
Author: Martha Crago
Institution: Dalhousie University
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Psycholinguistics; Syntax
Subject Language: Chinese, Mandarin
French
Spanish
Abstract: This article explores the widely documented difficulty with object clitics in the acquisition of French. The study investigates the effects of L1 transfer and processing limitations on the production and comprehension of object clitics in child L2 learners of French with different L1 backgrounds (Chinese, Spanish). The Spanish-speaking learners performed better than Chinese-speaking learners on clitic-related tasks, indicating a facilitative effect of transfer when the L1 also has object clitics. Yet no evidence was found for (negative) transfer of null objects from Chinese to French, as learners consistently rejected interpretations requiring referential null objects on a receptive task. The frequency of Chinese-speaking learners’ object omissions in production was negatively correlated with an independent measure of working memory (backward digit span), consistent with the hypothesis that object clitic omission is affected by processing limitations. These findings are discussed within a psycholinguistic model of syntactic encoding during language production.

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This article appears IN Bilingualism: Language and Cognition Vol. 15, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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