What the start of L3 tells us about the end of L2: N-drop in L2 and L3 Brazilian Portuguese

Jennifer Cabrelli, Michael Iverson, Tiffany Judy, Jason Rothman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


Only recently has there been an increased interest in generative L3 acquisition studies (see Leung 2007 inter alia). Studying L3 acquisition is interesting in its own right, since there are different variables to consider; nevertheless, studying L3 acquisition can also provide insight into theoretical debates within formal approaches to adult L2A (cf. Leung 2005, 2007). In this paper, we test for nominal ellipsis (N-drop) at the initial state of two L3 groups: English-Spanish additive adult bilinguals (n=22) and English-Spanish successive childhood bilingual learners of L3 Portuguese (n=18). We compare these groups to an independent group of English learners of L2 Portuguese at the initial state (n=20). Both L3 groups (unlike the L2 group) demonstrate knowledge of N-drop at the initial state of Portuguese, suggesting that the additive Spanish bilinguals acquired the interpretable and uninterpretable Spanish gender and number features crucial to acquiring N-drop (White et al. 2004), which provides evidence against theories of partial access for L2 acquisition.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBUCLD 32 online proceedings supplement
EditorsHarvey Chan, Enkeleida Kapia, Heather Jacob
Place of PublicationSomerville, Mass.
PublisherCascadilla Press
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes
EventBoston University Conference on Language Development (32nd : 2007) - Boston, MA
Duration: 2 Nov 20074 Nov 2007


ConferenceBoston University Conference on Language Development (32nd : 2007)
CityBoston, MA


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