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“Les copains *dit au revoir”: On Subject–Verb Agreement in L2 French and Cross-Linguistic Influence
Journal Contribution - Journal Article
This study focuses on the production of subject–verb (SV) agreement in number in L2 French and investigates the role of cross-linguistic influence (CLI) in this particular morphosyntactic domain. CLI is a well-known phenomenon in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) research but it has rarely been investigated systematically in relation to SV agreement in French. The participants of the study are 114 learners with Italian, German, Dutch and Swedish as L1. The source languages are all inflectional languages but they vary in terms of morphological richness in the verb paradigm, ranging from very poor (Swedish) to very rich (Italian). The participants performed an oral narrative task contrasting singular and plural contexts of SV agreement. Results indicate a significant difference between L1 groups in terms of correct SV agreement but they also show that the overall presence of rich verb morphology in the L1 does not, on its own, result in a more correct SV agreement. It is when comparing learners at two different proficiency levels that we observe differences in the rate of L2 development, which may be explained as an effect of CLI. Overall, results indicate a complex interplay of different factors, where the role of CLI must be further investigated in future studies in relation to L2 French.
Number of pages: 17
Keywords:French, L2 acquisition, verb morphology, subject–verb agreement, number, transfer, cross-linguistic influence