University of Western Ontario - Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Location of Thesis Examination

Room 6150 Support Services Building

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

French

Supervisor

Dr. Jeff Tennant

Abstract

This thesis looks at how factors such as cross-linguistic transfer affect the degree of attainment of one morphosyntax-pragmatic interface phenomenon in particular: the subjunctive in French and Spanish in contexts where mood can alternate without ungrammaticality.

According to Quer (1998), such contexts present variation amongst native speakers (NSs). In order to identify the external and internal factors that govern this variation, we asked our control groups, 43 NSs of French and 22 NSs of Spanish, to fill out a linguistic profile and a scenario selection task. 36 L1 English speakers completed these same tasks in addition to a linguistic background questionnaire. 23 of these participants were students of French and 13 were students of Spanish. 15 of the students of French had no knowledge of Spanish whereas 8 did. As for the students of Spanish, 5 had no knowledge of French and 8 did.

The results from our scenario selection task suggest that positive cross-linguistic influence occurs both from the direction of the L2 to the L3 and from the L3 to the L2 since the multilingual learners outperformed the bilingual learners, most likely due to their increased exposure to the subjunctive in more than one non native tongue. Such results also suggest that adult L2 learners are better able to acquire an interface phenomenon when they are also learning an L3 which uses it in the same way, because they are able to advantageously apply their knowledge of this concept in French to Spanish, and vice-versa.