CHANGE- OF -STATE PREDICATES: THE ACQUISITION OF THE ENGLISH RESULTATIVE CONSTRUCTIONS BY SPANISH SPEAKERS

S. Bautista-Maldonado1, Y.C. Perez-Nares1, Z. Rodriguez-Cordova1, S.C. Herrera-Sanchez1, M. Perez-Barriga2

1Universidad Autonoma del Carmen (MEXICO)
2Escuela Secundaria Tecnica 21 (MEXICO)
The main purpose of this paper is to report the results of a study of the acquisition of the English syntactic realization of change-of-state resultatives (like The teacher shouted herself hoarse/The lake froze solid) by second language speakers at different proficiency levels whose mother tongue is Spanish. Spanish does not realize these types of complex events. Spanish only realizes a similar event known as "Depictives" (such as John ate the meat raw). It is this contrast between English and Spanish languages, in the way they realize the meaning of similar events/states, which is investigated here. Following a review of a number of proposals about the nature of the lexical-semantic representation of events/states, and how those representations link to syntactic structure, it is hypothesized that the differences between English and Spanish can be captured on the basis of a universal set of semantic functions, and of parameters of variation in how semantic functions merge to form complex events. It is proposed a parameter of variation " The + or - incorporate change of state predicates as direct objects' parameter" where English and Spanish have chosen different values of these parameters: English selects the + value and Spanish the - value. Testing the acquisition of Abstract Case Assignment, a claimed principle of Universal Grammar, It was assumed that if Spanish speakers learners of English show knowledge of the resultative interpretations they will be sensitive of the Case determined by the distribution of "fake' reflexives (the teacher shouted herself hoarse). Using a Truth-Value Judgement Task and an Acceptability Judgement Task data were collected and analyzed. A total of 38 Spanish speakers learners of English as a Second Language and a control group of 10 native speakers of English participated in this study. It was assumed that Spanish speakers will interpret "clean" as a secondary prediction "depictive" in sentences such as The waiter brushed the floor clean as a description either of the current state of the floor or the waiter, rather than the result of brushing it. Results show that native Spanish speakers acquire the resultative interpretations of secondary predications in English, but they fail to acquire the constraints on the use of ‘fake reflexives’ in such constructions (e.g. the requirement for a –self form in The teacher shouted *(herself) hoarse, but the absence of a –self form in The lake froze (*itself) solid). It is suggested that this does not imply that they are unable to access the principle of Universal Grammar that determines this distribution (structural Case assignment) but that they have not yet acquired the English value of a parameter that allows resultative predicates to be incorporated as the direct objects of main verbs. The implications of the findings for current general hypotheses about Second Language Acquisition are discussed.