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Learner language morphology as a window to crosslinguistic influences: A key structure analysis

  • Ilmari Ivaska (a1) and Kirsti Siitonen (a2)

The study of crosslinguistic influences (CLI) has proven that morphosyntactic features exhibit CLI. Technical development and novel resources have enabled detection-based approaches, where potential CLI are revealed based on their observed frequencies and on differences between learners with different language backgrounds. The two research questions are as follows: (i) How construction-specific typological (dis)similarities between L1 and L2 affect the frequencies of linguistic features? (ii) Can such (dis)similarities be detected by comparing feature frequency data of L2? The data come from the International Corpus of Learner Finnish, and the methodology applied is the key structure analysis. The results support the applicability of the method: they show that constructional similarities may trigger CLI construction by construction, irrespective of the general similarities or genealogical categorizations. The results further imply the importance of controlling the genre-related and topical variation to account for skewed nature of the data when dealing with naturally occurring learner language data.

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