Tatiana Antontchik. Foto: Pia Nordin
Tatiana Antontchik. Foto: Pia Nordin

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This talk will report the results of two studies conducted for my doctoral dissertation investigating the acquisition of nominal compounding in Swedish as a second language (L2). Further, it will discuss how research on the acquisition of L2 compounds can contribute to the understanding of the psychological mechanisms underlying individual differences and cross-learner similarities in L2 learning and use. The studies are based on longitudinal spoken data from L2 learners of Swedish and spoken data from native speakers of Swedish, extracted from the ASU Corpus (Hammarberg, 2010) and analyzed using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods.
The first study investigates the effect of individual differences in the extraversion personality domain (McCrae & Costa, 2008) on learning and use of Swedish compounding. The results suggest that differences on the extraversion continuum affect learners’ acquisition of subjective frequency (Lemhöfer, Koester, & Schreuder, 2011) of L2 compounds – i.e. the amount of experience with these constructions more frequent in written informational prose than in conversation (Biber & Gray, 2010; Einarsson, 1978). Thus, personality appears to mediate the effects of L2 input, facilitating the development and use of compound nouns in more introvert L2 learners.
The second study examines the emergence of morphological productivity and creativity in the development of L2 Swedish compounding. The analysis of the learners’ language production reveals that, although the compound construction patterns develop at different pace in different learners, they exhibit major structural similarities. These include the growth of compound families and the mirroring of the frequency distributions regarding lexical categories of compound constituents in L2 input. A further analysis suggests that the creative compound production draws on the same creative operations as found in the development of L2 and L1 syntactic constructions. Leaning on conceptual tools from usage-based cognitive linguistic approaches to L2 acquisition (Ellis, 2015) and Construction Morphology (Booij, 2010), the discussion of the results highlights the role of the cognitive processes of analogy and abstraction, known to underly learning and knowledge structuring (Gentner & Hoyos, 2017) and also proposed as prerequisites of creativity (Welling, 2007).

References: See Abstract (pdf) below.