The second language acquisition of copula choice in Spanish and its relationship to language change
AuthorGeeslin, Kimberly Louise
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractWhile many linguists point to the value of using data from second language acquisition (SLA) to explore theories of language change, few conduct work in this area. The primary objective of this dissertation is to bridge the gap between these fields by examining the SLA of copula choice before adjectives in Spanish. Historically, the copulas 'ser' and 'estar' have been in competition as the latter has been adopted in new contexts with a wider variety of adjectives. Current sociolinguistic research shows that this change has been accelerated by contact with English (Silva-Corvalan, 1986) but that the change itself was already present in Mexico where contact with English is unlikely Gutierrez, 1992). Gutierrez (1992) identifies classes of adjectives which appear to undergo change first, and based on his findings, makes predictions about the direction of future changes. The classification scheme which enabled Gutierrez (1992) to show how the extension of 'estar˚' progressed also allows for a new approach to classification of SLA data. Previous studies on the SLA of 'ser' and 'estar' (Ryan and Lafford, 1992, Briscoe, 1995) have focused on stages of acquisition, but not within the context 'copula + adjective'. By using data from conversations, picture descriptions and contextualized judgment tasks with English speaking high school students of Spanish at various proficiency levels, the predictions in Gutierrez (1992) can be tested on the order of SLA of the copula+adjective structure. In so doing, the results are expected to shed light on the relationship between SLA and language change.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Second Language Acquisition and Teaching