Distributive Quantifier Scope in English-Japanese and Korean-Japanese Interlanguage

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This article reports on an experimental investigation of knowledge of distributivity in nonnative (L2) Japanese learners whose first language (L1) is English or Korean. The availability of distributive scope in Japanese is modulated by word order and the semantic features of quantifiers. For English-speaking learners, these subtle interpretive phenomena are underdetermined in both the input and the L1. However, for Korean speakers, target-like knowledge could arise via L1 transfer. The results yield clear evidence of distinct developmental paths in the two L1 groups, testifying to L1 influence on the syntax-semantics interface. Nonetheless, some English-speaking learners exhibit target-like distributive readings despite the lack of direct evidence. This development of target-like knowledge in the absence of evidence is accounted for by integrating Sprouse's (2006) lexical transfer account of L2 acquisition and a Universal Grammar model (Beghelli 1995) of distributive scope.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-177
Number of pages43
JournalLanguage Acquisition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009

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