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When Articles Have Different Meanings: Acquiring the Expression of Genericity in English and Brazilian Portuguese

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Chapter Summary

This chapter reports on an experimental study of the expression of genericity in the acquisition of English by native speakers of Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese, and in the acquisition of Brazilian Portuguese by native speakers of English and Spanish. It experimentally examines the expression of genericity with native speakers of English, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese and investigates the role of first language (L1)-transfer in the interpretation of noun phrases (NPs) with and without articles in generic environments in the second language (L2)-English of Spanish speakers as well as in the L2-Spanish of English speakers. English, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese behave the same on definite singular generics (which denote taxonomic entities) and indefinite singular generics. The chapter concludes that the L1-transfer plays a limited role in the expression of genericity for learners of English and Brazilian Portuguese, and that L1-transfer is overridden by considerations of frequency in the input and/or register.

Keywords: Brazilian Portuguese; definite singular generics; English speakers; indefinite singular generics; noun phrases (NPs); Spanish speakers



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