On the Interpretation of Null Arguments in L2 Japanese by L1 German Speakers
We report that (i) L1 German learners of Japanese as a foreign language allowed a sloppy interpretation of null arguments in the course of their L2 development, and that (ii) the sloppy interpretation between the L1 German group and the Japanese control group was, statistically, significantly different. Under Ishino’s (2012) Feature Transfer and Feature Learning model on second language acquisition (SLA) which we adopt, it is not immediately clear what type of null arguments the L1 German learners permit in their L2 Japanese. We argue that L1 German learners of L2 Japanese adopt German verbatim topic drop (Trutkowski, 2016) to make sloppy interpretation of null arguments available in their Japanese, an instance of L1 transfer. The current proposal is consistent with Yamada and Miyamoto’s (2017) finding that null arguments available in the L2 Japanese grammar of other European non-pro-drop language speakers do not permit sloppy interpretation, for verbatim topic drop is an operation specific to German.
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