Existential quantifiers in second language acquisition: a feature reassembly account

Kook-hee Gil, Heather Marsden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lardiere's (2005, 2008, 2009) Feature Reassembly Hypothesis proposes that L2 acquisition involves reconfiguring the sets of lexical features that occur in the native language into feature bundles appropriate to the L2. This paper applies the Feature Reassembly Hypothesis to findings from recent research into the L2 acquisition of existential quantifiers. It firstly provides a feature-based, crosslinguistic account of polarity item any in English, and its equivalents - wh-existentials - in Chinese, Korean and Japanese. We then test predictions built on the Feature Reassembly Hypothesis, about how learners map target existential quantifiers in the L2 input onto feature sets from their L1, and how they then reassemble these feature sets to better match the target. The findings, which are largely compatible with the predictions, show that research that focuses on the specific processes of first mapping and then feature reassembly promises to lead to a more explanatory account of development in L2 acquisition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-149
Number of pages33
JournalLinguistic Approaches to Bilingualism
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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© John Benjamins Publishing Company. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.


  • second language acquisition
  • features
  • existential quantifiers
  • polarity items
  • English
  • Japanese
  • Chinese
  • Korean
  • wh-words
  • feature reassembly

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