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Epilogue: A tale of two copulas

  • EVE ZYZIK (a1) and SUSAN GASS (a2)

The five papers in this issue cover a range of perspectives on the acquisition and use of the Spanish copulas ser and estar in a variety of contexts, including language contact, bilingual language acquisition, and classroom second language learning. The fact that these papers cite work in this area as far back as the early part of the 20th century with each subsequent decade being represented suggests the continual importance and complexity of the distinction between the two copular forms and shows how this complexity is played out in acquisition and bilingual use. Over the past century different perspectives have been taken on this multifaceted issue with linguistic explanations and the role of the native language being primary. In this epilogue, we focus on some of these same issues, but expand our commentary to include the new dimensions represented in this collection of papers: (i) context of learning (input), (ii) prior knowledge as represented by other language(s) known, (iii) item-learning and lexical development, and (iv) innovations in methodology.

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Bardovi-Harlig K. 2001. Evaluating the empirical evidence: Grounds for instruction in pragmatics? In Rose & Kasper (eds.), pp. 13–32.
Cruttenden A. 1981. Item-learning and system-learning. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 10, 7988.
Ellis R. 1999. Item versus system learning: Explaining free variation. Applied Linguistics, 20, 460480.
Gass S. 1997. Input, interaction, and the second language learner. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Gass S. & Selinker L. 2008. Second language acquisition: An introductory course. London: Taylor & Francis.
Geeslin K. & Guijarro-Fuentes P. 2005. The acquisition of copula choice in instructed Spanish: The role of individual characteristics. In Eddington D. (ed.), Studies in the acquisition of the Hispanic languages: Papers from the 6th Conference on the Acquisition of Spanish and Portuguese as First and Second Languages, pp. 6677. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
Geeslin K. & Guijarro-Fuentes P. 2006. The second language acquisition of variable structures in Spanish by Portuguese speakers. Language Learning, 56, 53107.
Hammarberg B. 2001. Roles of L1 and L2 in L3 production and acquisition. In Cenoz J., Hufesein B. & Jessner U. (eds.), Cross-linguistic influence in third language acquisition: Psycholinguistic perspectives, pp. 2141. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
Henkes T. 1974. Early stages in the non-native acquisition of English syntax: A study of three children from Zaire, Venezuela, and Saudi Arabia. Ph.D. dissertation, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.
Kasper G. 2001. Classroom research on interlanguage pragmatics. In Rose & Kasper (eds.), pp. 33–60.
Rose K. & Kasper G. (eds.) 2001. Pragmatics and language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Zobl H. 1982. A direction for contrastive analysis: The comparative study of developmental sequences. TESOL Quarterly, 16, 169183.
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Bilingualism: Language and Cognition
  • ISSN: 1366-7289
  • EISSN: 1469-1841
  • URL: /core/journals/bilingualism-language-and-cognition
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