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Motion Events in Spanish as a Foreign Language

Phillips, Luke Tsekos (2007) Motion Events in Spanish as a Foreign Language. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Talmy (1975; 1985) proposes that most of the world's languages can be divided into two classes regarding their expression of Motion Situations. The difference between these languages lies in the additional elements with which Motion is combined in the verb root. Spanish, for instance, typically describes the Motion and the Path in the verb root, while English conflates Motion and Manner in the verb. Speakers of a language must therefore focus their attention on different aspects of a Motion Situation in order to effectively describe it in their language. Prior research has attempted to discover whether L2 speakers can learn a new way of experiencing Motion Situations in order to describe them later. The consensus is that this is a difficult change to make at most levels, even for near-native speakers. This thesis looks at some fundamental elements of how native speakers of English develop their ability to express motion at two early stages of learning Spanish. The productive ability of beginning and low-intermediate Spanish L2 learners was analyzed against native speakers during the narration of a wordless picture book as well as filling in blanks of a Spanish representation. The results show that beginning students use many light manner verb constructions including phonologically null light verbs. Similarly, low-intermediate students revert to English when the production of a Motion Situation requires the conflation of Motion and Path instead of Manner. These findings suggest that Talmy's typological framework may not explore issues with L2 transfer deeply enough. Instead, a finer-grained analysis can explain some results that are not predicted by Talmy's typology. It is suggested that this style of analysis continue to be used to better describe the early process of L2 Spanish acquisition.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Phillips, Luke Tsekosltp2@pitt.eduLTP2
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairShirai,
Committee CoChairMasullo, Pascualpascual@pitt.eduPASCUAL
Committee MemberJuffs, Alanjuffs@pitt.eduJUFFS
Date: 19 September 2007
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 9 May 2007
Approval Date: 19 September 2007
Submission Date: 23 July 2007
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Hispanic Linguistics
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: L1 English; L2 Spanish; S-language; V-language; fine-grained contrastive analysis; hispanic linguistics
Other ID:, etd-07232007-172554
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:53
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:46


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