Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.

(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)

Binding domains in second language acquisition: Implications for textbook presentations

Lourdes Ramirez Mallis, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This study investigates the acquisition of pronominal reference in adult second language acquisition within the framework of the Government-Binding Theory of grammar. The analysis will draw conclusions regarding how grammatical explanations might be presented in Spanish language textbooks. Unlike English, Spanish does not seem to be consistent with the principle that a pronoun should be free in reference. Since some Spanish structures with subjunctive complements are obligatorily disjoint in reference, it will be argued that verbs of volition in those structures contain certain features which call for disjoint reference. Interpretation picture tests are used to assess second language learners' understanding of pronominal reference. Adult native speakers of English are tested at the beginning, intermediate and advanced levels of university Spanish language study. Results show that in simple sentences students have no difficulty interpreting pronouns. When complex sentences are used, results show that regardless of complement type (indicative, subjunctive), students initially define the complement sentence as the binding domain for its subject, and allow the subject to (co)refer freely. The acquisition of the requirement for disjoint reference develops through the interaction of lexical/semantic properties of main verbs with the structural principles.

Subject Area

Linguistics|Language arts

Recommended Citation

Mallis, Lourdes Ramirez, "Binding domains in second language acquisition: Implications for textbook presentations" (1988). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI8823730.