The Role of Aspect in the Acquisition of Ser and Estar in Locative Contexts by English-Speaking Learners of Spanish

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This study proposes an explanatory account for the developmental stages of the acquisition of ser and estar in locative constructions. We propose that this copular distribution is regulated by two aspectual features, dynamicity and temporal boundedness. These features are crucial for the interpretation of nominals such as dinner, which refers to the physical food [–dynamic] with estar and to the event of having a meal [+dynamic] with ser. In a Picture Matching Task and an Elicited Production Task, English-speaking learners of Spanish had to comprehend, locate, and distinguish objects from events by employing the two Spanish copulas. We questioned whether L2 learners would be sensitive to the aspectual nature of subjects and copulas in locative constructions. We found that participants had difficulties interpreting the feature [+dynamic] in nominal subjects and propose that this is the last feature acquired, offering a revised developmental path of the acquisition of ser/estar.

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Language Acquisition

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