This study focuses on the development of complex word formation in L2 acquisition. We examine experimentally elicited data on English deverbal synthetic compounding (such as toe-painter) by native Spanish speakers and conclude that: (a) development proceeds in stages which clearly reflect UG-constrained L1 influence; (b) nontargetlike productions (e.g. painter-toes) show attempts to spell out the grammatical features associated with functional categories in deverbal compounding; though nontargetlike, they are nonetheless consistent with the compound's required feature-marking; (c) such attempts implicate the early existence in the Interlanguage of those functional heads and their projections in the (lexical) syntax; i.e., the absence of the correct phonological form cannot be taken to imply lack of knowledge of morphosyntactic features and their corresponding phrase structure.
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