Previous research (e.g., Bardovi-Harlig & Reynolds, 1995; Cadierno, 2000; Camps, 2002; Robison, 1990, 1995; Salaberry, 1999, 2003, 2011) has tested the validity of the Lexical Aspect Hypothesis (LAH), developed by Andersen and Shirai (1994), which proposes that in beginning stages of the L2 acquisition process, the inherent lexical (meaning-based or semantic) aspect of a verb determines the selection of tense and aspect verbal morphology (preterit vs. imperfect) rather than the grammatical aspect, which is related to the viewpoint of the speaker (e.g., whether s/he wants to highlight the beginning, middle or end of an action or event). These studies analyzed written and oral data from personal and story retell learner narratives in classroom contexts. While many studies have found support for the association of lexical aspect with L2 verbal morphology, the claim of the LAH that such association is highest during beginning stages of learning has been questioned. For instance, Salaberry (1999, 2003) found evidence for the preterit acting as a past tense default marker across all lexical aspectual classes, while the association of lexical aspect with verbal morphology increased with L2 proficiency; both of these findings contradict the LAH. Studies have also investigated the influence of task type on tense and aspect morphology. Salaberry's (1999, 2003) beginning L2 learners utilized the preterit as a past tense default marker in a story retell (SR) task whereas the imperfect was used as a default marker in a personal narrative (PN) (2003). To continue testing the validity of LAH, the present study analyzed SR and PN data from twenty two university-level intermediate and advanced L2 Spanish learners. This study also explored the relationship between task type (SR vs. PN) and verb morphology. Results show that both intermediate and advanced learners appear to be using the preterit as a past tense default marker across all lexical aspectual classes, corroborating Salaberry's (1999, 2003) findings with beginning learners, and contradicting the LAH. Results of the present study also reveal that narrative task type (SR vs. PN) appears to play a role in the distribution of tense and aspect morphology among intermediate and advanced classroom L2 Spanish learners.
- Exploring the use of tense and aspect morphology in Spanish oral narratives by intermediate and advanced learners
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by Carly Rae Henderson