Argument Structure and Multicompetence

Patricia Balcom


Cook (1991, 1992) discussed the question of ultimate attainment in second language acquisition in terms of what he called 'multicompetence'. He proposed that the internalized L2 grammars of very advanced (native-like) learners are different from those of monolingual native speakers, although their performance is similar, since the L1 and L 2 grammars may influence each other. This article explores the acceptance and use of inappropriate passive morphology by very advanced francophone learners of English, comparing
their linguistic performance (measured by a fill-in-the-blanks
task) and linguistic intuitions (measured by a grammaticality judgement task) to those of native speakers of English with very little previous exposure to French. The results supported Cook's muIticompetence hypothesis. The very advanced learners had performance which was indistinguishable from
that of native speakers on the controlled production task. However, there were significant differences between the two groups in their acceptance of inappropriate passive morphology on the grammaticality judgement task, particularly with verbs having a Theme in subject position
and describing a state or change of state.

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