Will Nediger presented a paper at the Hispanic Linguistics Symposium, held at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, September 24-27. The presentation was based on joint research with Acrisio Pires and Pedro Guijarro-Fuentes (University of the Balearic Islands). This paper continues Will's and Acrisio's research on how linguistic theory can both inform and be informed by L2 acquisition. Specifically, the paper argues that the manner in which the production Differential Object Marking in Spanish is influenced by syntactic and semantic features is more complex than previously thought, but that advanced L2 speakers are nonetheless able to approximate L1 speakers on many conditions. The title and abstract of the paper are given below.

Syntactic and Semantics Features in the Production of Differential Object Marking in L1 and L2 Spanish

In Spanish, some direct objects are preceded by an accusative case marker, a, a phenomenon known as Differential Object Marking (DOM). The realization of DOM in Spanish has been argued to be influenced by a number of syntactic and semantic features, particularly features of the object such as animacy and specificity. We conducted a Qualtrics-based survey of L1 Spanish speakers from Spain and advanced L1 English-L2 Spanish speakers living in Spain, including a grammaticality judgment task, an elicited production task, and a context-driven grammaticality judgment task. The conditions manipulated syntactic and semantic features which have been argued to influence the realization of DOM. Here, we present the results of the elicited production task. First, we find that the features influencing the realization of DOM in L1 Spanish are more complicated than previously thought; in particular, we find that features like (in)definiteness and the presence or absence of determiners more strongly correlate with the realization of DOM than specificity, contrary to most previous descriptions, with the notable exception of López (2012). Second, we find that advanced L2 learners are largely capable of acquiring the complex set of syntactic and semantic features influencing the realization of DOM; they perform above chance on all conditions, and are significantly less accurate than L1 speakers on only two of the six conditions (definite DP objects and agentive subjects).