Date: Friday, Ocotober 9th, 2015
Time: 14:30 – 16:00
Location: Leiden, Eyckhof 4-006
Speaker: Bert Le Bruyn & Xiaoli Dong
Title: The semantics of definiteness: from L1 Mandarin to L2 English
Schwarz (2012) and Arkoh & Matthewson (2013) argue that definite articles across languages encode different dimensions of definiteness (see also Lyons 1999). We take this reasoning one step further for Mandarin – a language without articles. On the basis of two new experimental paradigms, we argue that Mandarin definiteness covers familiarity but not maximality. We furthermore show how this type of definiteness lives on in L2 acquisition: using the same experimental paradigms, we show how Mandarin L2 English definites are familiar but not maximal (nor specific). Our findings not only provide new insights in the nature of definiteness as a cross-categorial concept, but also deepen our understanding of L2 article acquisition by systematically exploring L1 transfer effects for articleless L1s.