Vigo International Journal of Applied Linguistics VIAL

María Martínez Adrián (1): On L2 English transfer effects in L3 syntax VIAL. Number 7/2010: 75-98.


This article focuses on the acquisition of L3 German by high school learners whose L2 is English. The main aim is to study the possible influence of English as an L2 on the acquisition of word order in L3 German in light of proposals along Minimalist lines (Chomsky 1995; Zwart 1997ab). Taking into account the description of parameters in terms of feature strength within the Minimalist Program, the hypothesis is entertained that there would be transfer of the value of feature strength under functional categories from the L2 to the L3. In order to test this hypothesis, written production data and grammaticality judgements have been collected from two groups of participants who learn German as L3 and from one control group with L2 German. The results do not support the hypothesis of L2 transfer at the syntactic level. However, evidence has been found of optional movements of the verb and the object, as reported in previous studies by Beck (1998). This optionality will be explained by the underspecification of feature values under functional categories.

Keywords: L3 acquisition, optionality, strength features, transfer, variability, verb movement parameter.

(1) Universidad del País Vasco/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea, Spain.

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