The Acquisition of a Morphosyntactic Variable in Spanish: The Analytic and Synthetic Forms of Present Progressive Aspect

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Stephen Fafulas

Abstract

The current study adds to the growing body of literature on the acquisition of variable structures in Spanish as a second language (Geeslin, forthcoming 2010). In doing so, it sheds light on a generally unexplored area of research in the field: the acquisition of the Spanish present progressive (Bardovi-Harlig, 2000). To achieve this goal, data on both native and non-native use of the simple present (synthetic) and present progressive (analytic) forms of present progressive aspect in Spanish were collected. A total of 24 participants (6 native Spanish speakers, 6 near-native, 6 advanced level, and 6 intermediate level L1 English learners of Spanish) completed a written preference task in the target language. The instrument was previously coded for the linguistic factors of lexical aspect (stative, activity, accomplishment, achievement) and semantic value of the adverb (habitual, immediate), which have been found to influence native speaker selection of these forms (Fafulas, 2009). The results obtained from the multivariate analysis of the current study show that lexical aspect, semantics of the adverb, and participant group are all significant factors in predicting selection of the synthetic, analytic, or both verb forms, by learners of Spanish as a second language.

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