THE NON-DROPPABILITY OF UNINTERPRETABLE FEATURES IN SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION: ON THE INTERPRETATION OF RESUMPTIVE PRONOUNS IN L2 CHINESE
The study sets to test proposals made by Yuan and Zhao (2005) and Tsimpli and Dimitrakopoulou (2007) in relation to the issue of parameter resetting in the interpretation of resumptive pronouns by adult English speakers of L2 Chinese. Fifty-four English speakers of different proficiency levels were asked to correct sentences involving ungrammatical resumptive pronouns in L2 Chinese and their responses were compared with those of a native speaker control group. Findings of the study argue against Yuan and Zhao’s input-driven parameter resetting account. Instead, they support the Interpretability Hypothesis of Tsimpli and Dimitrakopoulou in assuming that there is a critical period for the accessibility of uninterpretable syntactic features for the construction of mental grammars. It is argued, by extending the un-attainability of the uninterpretable features assumption, that once the uninterpretable syntactic features are selected, they become difficult to lose if L2 lacks such uninterpretable features.
Key words: uninterpretable features, parameter resetting, partial access, resumptive pronouns