Acquisition of English verb transitivity by native speakers of Japanese

Tomonori Nagano


This on-going study is concerned with native Japanese speakers’ acquisition of English verb semantic classes, especially those participating in the English causative alternation. Twenty-two native English speakers and 34 native Japanese speakers were asked to judge the grammaticality of verbs from different semantic classes in transitive (e.g., “X disappeared/touched/moved Y”) and intransitive constructions (e.g., “X/Y disappeared/touched/moved”). Data suggest that L2 learners are sensitive to frequency effects when verbs are not prototypical members of a verb semantic class. I discuss possible interactions between frequency effects and L1/L2 verb semantic classes in second language acquisition.

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