G. Garcia Perez

UBC Okanagan (CANADA)
Linguistic Markedness by itself or in combination with other factors such as interlanguage (IL) transfer has been suggested as a possible explanation or means of predicting interlanguage development. A necessary prerequisite is the existance of binary opposition. Within a pair of conjugated elements hierarchically related, one is marked and the other one is unmarked. The unmarked element is the more basic, neutral or central one in the opposition. It is the element that possesses fewer features, the one that conveys less information, and the one that is implied in the marked one. Besides, the marked element is the least basic or central. While this concept was originally conceived as applicable within the domain of single linguistic systems, it was later expanded so as to apply to phenomena whose analyses involved cross-linguistic comparisons. So, typological markedness has provided the framework in which much of the research related to the relationship between second language acquisition (SLA) and markeness has been conducted. In particular, the Accessibility Hierarchy (AH) for relative clause formation has been used to predict successful acquisition and accuracy orders for relative clauses (RC). According to the AH, there is a universal order in which noun phrase positions can be relativized in natural languages. The order is that subjects can be relativized more commonly than direct objects, direct objects are, in turn, relativized more extensively than indirect objects, which are relativized more frequently than oblique objects; and so on. Since the AH is an implicational hierarchy, it claims that if a language relativizes in a syntactic position toward the marked (right) end of the hierarchy, it also relativizes in all positions to the left of that particular position. The literature review related to the validity of the AH reveals different points of view according to the level of language which is analyzed. The present paper summarizes these points of view and presents the results of a pilot project carried out with a group of third year students taking a Spanish grammar course in the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies at the University of British Columbia. These students received instruction on the relative clauses in Spanish on formal tasks (written) and informal tasks (oral). A comparative analysis between the students' outcomes in the two tasks is also provided.