Di Biase, Bruno, Hinger, Barbara (2015) Exploring the acquisition of differential object marking (DOM) in Spanish as a second language. In: Bettoni, Di Biase (eds.) Grammatical Development in Second Languages: Exploring the boundaries of

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Di Biase, Bruno, Hinger, Barbara (2015) Exploring the acquisition of differential object marking (DOM) in Spanish as a second language. In: Bettoni, Di Biase (eds.) Grammatical Development in Second Languages: Exploring the boundaries of
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  EUROSLA MONOGRAPHS SERIES  3Grammatical development in second languages, 213-242 7 Exploring the acquisition of differential object marking (DOM) in Spanish as a second language  Bruno Di Biase* and Barbara Hinger** *University of Western Sydney, **University of Innsbruck  1. Introduction The aim of this chapter is to explore the acquisition of differential object mark-ing (DOM) in Spanish L2 and thus probe the higher level boundaries of the PTframework. In coining the term DOM, Bossong (1983-84, 1991) presentedcross-linguistic data on more than 300 languages presenting this grammaticalcharacteristic, whereby direct objects (OBJs) of transitive Vs either remainunmarked or are overtly marked by case or agreement on the basis of somesemantic or pragmatic feature. This marking has since attracted considerableattention in linguistic theory (e.g., Aissen 2003; Dalrymple & Nikolaeva 2011;Leonetti 2004; Torrego 1998, 1999, among many others). Unlike the many purely structural approaches, Dalrymple & Nikolaeva’s (2011: 1-2) point outthat DOM, in the many languages where it manifests itself, “encompasses syn-tactic, semantic and informational-structural differences between marked andunmarked objects”. So they propose that marked OBJs are associated, syn-chronically or historically, with the information-structure role of   topic  . Wherethe connection between marked OBJs and topicality has been lost throughgrammaticalisation, marked OBJs become associated with  semantic features   typ-ical of topics, such as animacy, definiteness and specificity (Dalrymple &Nikolaeva 2011:1-2). Spanish is one of the languages exhibiting DOM, where-by some OBJs are marked with the preposition  a  , also known as marked accu-sative (Torrego 1998), prepositional accusative, personal  a  , or accusative  a  (Montrul & Bowles 2008; Tippets 2011).Given our interest in acquisition, we note that Spanish DOM is highlighted in theliterature as difficult to acquire, not only for English L1 learners of Spanish L2(Bowles & Montrul 2009; Guijarro-Fuentes 2011, 2012; VanPatten & Cadierno1993), but also, perhaps more surprisingly, for early bilingual ‘heritage’ speakers of Spanish in the USA (Montrul 2008; Montrul & Bowles 2009; Montrul &Sanchez-Walker 2013; Silva-Corvalan 1994). For L2 Spanish, Farley & McCollam  (2004) confirm this difficulty for  a- marked OBJs.Their findings however show nosupport for the PT-based schedule they derive from Johnston (1995) andPienemann (1998), who place  a- marked OBJs well before subjunctives, which areat the top stage in PT.To our mind this is not surprising because the earlier versionof PT locates structures on a single developmental axis, whether they are obligato-ry or optional, whether declaratives, negatives, interrogatives, or other pragmatical-ly motivated constructions. Thus earlier PT is not equipped to deal with optionaland interface phenomena, including Spanish DOM. On the other hand, the cur-rent proposal for PT by Bettoni & Di Biase in chapter 1 of this volume offers prin-cipled explanations and more attuned predictions in the area of syntax-semanticand syntax-discourse interfaces.This chapter then sallies into an exploration of the rather controversial area of case marking, itself a relatively new area in PT, but limited to DOM. Morespecifically it will attempt to show that the current version of PT is better suit-ed to account for the difficulties in learning differential case-marking, which wesee as a structure located at the interface of syntax-semantics and syntax-dis-course. Similar observations about the difficulties advanced adult L2 learnersface when acquiring the interface of syntax with other cognitive domains ledSorace & Filiaci (2006) to propose the Interface Hypothesis, attributing the dif-ficulty, possibly, to computational limitations in integrating multiple sources of information. These difficulties have been variously interpreted also in terms of ‘incomplete acquisition’ (e.g., Montrul 2008), from lack of access or partialaccess to universal grammar, or some kind of ‘representational deficit’ (Clahsen& Felser 2006), and in terms of the Feature (In)accessibility Hypothesis(Guijarro-Fuentes 2011, 2012). We interpret these difficulties in processing terms, in the sense that the com-putational complexity created by the requirement to integrate discourse informa-tion with syntactic information makes processing in real time harder for the learn-er(Hopp2007),asopposedtothenativespeaker,whohasalreadyautomatizedthenecessary underlying processes. It is also plausible, as Wilson (2009) claims, thattheadditionalcomputationalcomplexitycreatedbytheattempttointegratediffer-ent layers of information challenges the ability of the learner to allocate cognitiveresources appropriately. For example, competing constraints from the L1 may interfere on how to interpret the semantic or discourse requirements. Indeed bothresource limitation and resource allocation may contribute simultaneously to thelearner’s difficulties. We will not delve any deeper into our processing option ver-sus representational deficits as an explanation of the learners’ difficulty with inter-face structures. We will instead suggest to place Spanish DOM, a structure sitting at the interface between syntax and semantics/discourse, within a current PT-basedschedule for L2 Spanish, and propose some initial empirical tests for our position.In the remainder of this chapter we will first offer a quick sketch of Spanish and 214 Bruno Di Biase and Barbara Hinger  the intriguing nature of its DOM, followed by a brief review of the acquisitionalliterature (§ 2). Next, we will present our developmental schedules for L2 Spanishover which DOM is distributed (§ 3), and empirically test them in a small-scalecross-sectional study of oral production of six Austrian students of Spanish as a for-eign language (§ 4). 2. Spanish and its Differential Object Marking  According toTippets (2011: 107), Spanish uses the preposition  a   to mark “humanaccusative (direct) objects.This transparent example of DOM relates to the anima-cy status of the accusative object”. The facts of Spanish, however, also support theproposition that neither all animate OBJs are  a  -marked nor that all inanimateOBJs are not  a  -marked. But before we zoom into this intriguing grammatical area let us zoom out to a brief overview of the language. A pluricentric language, Spanish is by far the most widely spoken of theRomance languages, and the national language of 18 countries as well as Spain, with large Spanish-speaking minorities in the USA, and significant minorities in a number of other countries in the world (cf. Green 2011 for an accessible overview of this language). Spanish is also, naturally, subject to regional and sociolinguisticvariation. It shares many characteristics with other Romance languages (cf. Italian,ch. 3, this volume) including nonconfigurationality, null SUBJ phenomena, a richagreement morphology and pronominal clitics. Following Green’s (2011) descrip-tion and modelling on his examples, Spanish word order is not fixed by grammat-ical requirements at a particular point in the sentence, which differentiates it fromFrench and even more from the Germanic languages. But it has strong constraints within  the main syntactic constituents, and its theoretical word order freedom issubject to pragmatic conventions: themes precede rhemes and new information isplaced towards the end of the utterance.In canonical word order, OBJs and complements followV, as in (1a-b). Giventhe tendency for SUBJ and TOP to coincide in spoken language, the SVO orderin (1a) is very frequent, whereas SOV in (1b) is register-dependent (e.g., in poetry forrhymingreasons);VOSin(1c)wouldsoundveryodd,andVSO(1d),althoughcommon in more formal registers, would signal contradiction or contrast in every-day language (‘it was Juana, not Carmen, who painted a car’). (1) a. Juana pintó un coche Juana-SUBJ painted-3. SG  a car-OBJb. Juana un coche pintó Juana-SUBJ a car-OBJ painted-3. SG 7. Exploring the acquisition of differential object marking (DOM) in Spanish as a second language 215  c. pintó un coche Juana painted-3. SG  a car-OBJ Juana-SUBJd. pintó Juana un cochepainted-3. SG  Juana-SUBJ a car-OBJ Similarly to Italian (cf. § 3.1, ch. 3), OBJ (when definite NP or proper N) can betopicalised by placing it at the beginning of the sentence, as in (2a), with an into-nation break after TOP and an  ACC  clitic obligatorily marked on V. 1  As Green(2011) notes, the result of this ‘clitic copying’ is no longer a simple sentence but a complete and perfectly grammatical structure in its own right. In other words, an XP ( los coches/the cars  ) is added to a complete S, which here comprises a transitiveV with its OBJ clitic marker coreferential with the external XP, followed by SUBJ. Another important point is that, when OBJ is topicalised, SUBJ is postverbal as in(2a), assuming a secondary  2 TOP role. In any case the sentence is complete even when the overtTOP is dropped (2b) because the obligatory OBJ is supplied by theclitic ( los  ) displaying anaphoric agreement withTOP. (2) a. los coches, los pintó Juana the cars- PL . MASC  they-  ACC . PL . MASC  painted-3. SG  Joanb.los pintó Juana they-  ACC . PL . MASC  painted-3. SG  Joan SUBJisobligatorilypostverbalalsoinpresentationals(3a)andincontentquestions(3b). However, again following Green (2011), interrogatives should not beassumed to entail SV inversion because postverbal SUBJ frequently occurs in state-ments, 3 and polar questions may show VS or SV order and rely on intonation todifferentiate from statements. (3) a. hay muchos puentes en Sydney there are many- PL . MASC  bridges- PL . MASC  in Sydney  216 Bruno Di Biase and Barbara Hinger 1 Like Italian, Spanish is a head-marking language, which therefore can mark OBJ mor-phologically on V (i.e., the head).2 As Dalrymple & Nikolaeva (2011: 53-4) remind us, “(t)he topic role is not necessarily unique”. Along with other scholars (e.g., Givón 1983; Lambrecht 1994; Polinsky 1995), they distinguish at least primary topic and secondary topic.3 A class of unaccusatives Vs with SUBJ=FOC normally exhibit a VS order, similarly toItalian (cf. § 3.2, ch. 1, this book): in the sentence llegó el jefe (‘arrived the boss’),postverbal SUBJ is the unmarked position.  b. qué pintó Juana ? what painted-3. SG  Joan ?  As for morphology, Spanish explicitly and consistently marks number and genderon all modifiers within NP, as well as number and person, and occasionally alsogender, between SUBJ and V, as (4a) shows. This provides optimal grounds fortesting classic PT. Interestingly for our concern in this chapter, Spanish – unlikeItalian (cf. § 2.1, ch. 3, this volume) – has no anaphoric agreement between lexi-cal V and OBJ, not even in constructions topicalising OBJ, as is confirmed by thegrammaticality of (4b), where  comido  (eaten) does not carry the plural and femi-nine features of   las manzanas   (the apples). (4) a. las manzanas están madurasthe apples- PL . FEM  are 3. PL  ripe- PL . FEM b. las manzanas las han comido los monosthe apples- PL . FEM  they-  ACC . PL . FEM  have eaten the monkeys- PL . MASC [the apples have been eaten by the monkeys] Possible ambiguities in distinguishing between SUBJ and OBJ are resolved by syn-tactic differences in two important ways, both connected to specificity (Green2011). The first syntactic difference is that the Spanish SUBJ NP – whether defi-nite, indefinite or generic – requires a determiner, whereas the OBJ does not.Thisis shown by the grammaticality of (5a), where the SUBJ  el hombre   (‘the man’)appears with the determiner, and the OBJ  manzanas   (‘apples’) without it.The OBJ without the article ( manzanas  , ‘apples’)responds to the question ‘whatdid the menbuy?’,andishenceacharacteristicnonTOP,focusedOBJ.Ontheotherhand,(5b)responds to the question ‘what happened?’ .  Hence the OBJ  las manzanas   (‘theapples’) is again a nonTOP, but neither is it FOC because, as ‘event reporting’(Lambrecht 1994), the whole sentence is in focus (new information). With regardto SUBJ, (5c) is ungrammatical because the SUBJ  hombres   (‘men’) is without a determiner, even though it is generic. (5) a. el hombre compró manzanasthe man bought-3. SG  applesb. el hombre compró las manzanasthe man bought-3. SG  the applesc. *hombres compraron manzanasmen bought-3. PL  apples 7. Exploring the acquisition of differential object marking (DOM) in Spanish as a second language 217
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