Changes in encoding of path of motion after acquisition of a second language

Amanda Brown, Marianne Gullberg

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Languages vary typologically in their lexicalization of Path of motion (Talmy 1991). Furthermore, lexicalization patterns are argued to affect syntactic packaging at the level of the clause (e.g. Slobin 1996b) and tend to transfer from a first (L1) to a second language (L2) in second language acquisition (e.g. Cadierno 2004). From this crosslinguistic and developmental evidence, typological preferences for Path expression appear highly robust features of a first language. The current study examines the extent to which preferences for Path encoding really are as enduring as they seem by investigating (1) whether Japanese follows patterns identified for other verb-framed languages like Spanish, and (2) whether patterns established in one’s first language can change after acquisition of a second language. L1 performance of native speakers of Japanese with intermediate-level knowledge of English was compared to that of monolingual speakers of Japanese and English. Results showed that monolingual Japanese speakers followed basic lexicalization patterns typical of other verb-framed languages, but with different realizations of Path packaging within the clause. Moreover, non-monolingual Japanese speakers displayed both English- and Japanese-like patterns for lexicalization with significantly more Path information per clause than either group of monolinguals. Implications for typology and second language acquisition are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-286
JournalCognitive Linguistics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Bibliographical note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Linguistics and Phonetics (015010003)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics


  • crosslinguistic influence
  • second language acquisition
  • motion events
  • attrition
  • path
  • Japanese
  • English


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