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Issues in Applied Linguistics

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Expressing Irrealis in L2 French: A Preliminary Study of the Conditional and Tense-Concordancing in L2 Acquisition

  • Author(s): Howard, Martin
  • et al.
Abstract

With a view to complementing the vast array of existing findings on the acquisition of tense and aspect, this article presents a quantitative analysis of the morphological expression of irrealis through the conditional in spoken L2 French by advanced Irish learners. Although previous studies suggest that the conditional is acquired late, our results demonstrate its frequent use in the advanced learner variety, particularly in simple clauses in particular, approaching similar levels of use as the past time marker of the passé composé, while also being used relatively more frequently than the imparfait. Such generally high levels of use in simple clauses contrast, however, with the difficulty demonstrated in its application in complex clauses where the learners experience greater difficulty in the morphological distinction between conditions expressing varying degrees of hypotheticality, in tense-concordancing across complex clauses, as well as in the expression of past conditions with the conditional anterior.

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