The acceptability and comprehensibility of gustar-type psychological verbs by English-speaking learners of Spanish
Kanwit, Matthew Harris
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Spanish 'gustar'-type psychological verbs continue to be one of the most difficult constructions for English-speaking language learners to acquire, as this indirect structure is quite different from its direct, transitive counterpart in English. Further, many elements of the structure need to be mastered, including the use of the dative a, indirect object clitic pronoun agreement governed by the experiencer and verb-theme agreement. The present study compares how native speakers in Querétaro, Mexico, and non-native speakers in the United States evaluate both prescriptively correct and incorrect psychological verb-containing sentences. Participants assigned a score to the sentences based on comprehensibility and acceptability and their reading time was also measured in each case. More advanced non-native speakers were able to approximate the judgments and reading times of native speakers, although the former tended to judge sentences in a more rigidly prescriptive manner. Less advanced non-native participants showed a much more incomplete knowledge of these structures, illustrating the difficulties associated with their acquisition.