Name of Periodical: International Journal of Bilingualism Volume Number: 17 Issue Number: 5 Year of Publication: 2013 Page Numbers: 634-52
This study investigates the extent to which advanced native-English L2 learners of Spanish come to acquire restrictions on bare plural preverbal subjects in L2 Spanish (e.g. gatos “cats” vs. definite plurals such as los gatos “the cats”). It tests L2 knowledge of available semantic readings of bare plurals and definite plurals in Spanish, where [+specific] and [+generic] interpretations are syntactically represented differently from English. Assuming L1 transfer, and in view of a potential subset/superset relationship of the two grammars, the learning task in this domain is not a straightforward one. Target acquisition requires both grammatical expansion and retraction; Spanish definite plural subjects require the addition of an L1-unavailable [+generic] reading, while a loss of an L1-available [+generic] reading for preverbal subject bare plurals is required. The results and analysis show that advanced L2 learners of Spanish (English L1) can circumvent a superficial subset/superset learnability problem by means of feature resetting in line with the Nominal Mapping Parameter.