Unaccusativity and Perfect Auxiliary Selection in Romance: Theory and an Observational Study in Second Language Acquisition

Christopher D. Sams


The aim of this paper is to investigate the properties associated with unaccusativity and the selection of auxiliary verbs (AUX) in the perfect tenses of the modern Romance languages. The modern languages that have a split-AUX system (such as Italian and French) operate under a principle in which some intransitive verbs select the equivalent of to be as their AUX in the compound past tenses, and others select the equivalent of to have. In research I have conducted over the past decade in the Italian language classroom, Bentley and Eythórsson’s auxiliary selection hierarchy (ASH) is best suited to explain how L2 Italian learners acquire the ability to make the appropriate surface AUX selection.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/ijl.v12i4.17445

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