Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Gita Martohardjono

Committee Members

Charles E. Cairns

Ricardo Otheguy

Subject Categories



This study investigated first language attrition in Greek-English bilinguals. Three areas of attrition were identified and tested in grammaticality judgment tasks. They include the lexical, morpholexical and morphosyntactic domains of Greek. Rejection of Greek grammatical sentences and acceptance of English grammatical sentences characterize the attrited state of these bilinguals.

The first area of attrition involves metaphorical senses of perno, 'take,' and spazo, 'break.' These verbs were chosen for this study because of the wide range of senses or meanings associated with them. As predicted, metaphorical senses were found to be vulnerable to attrition.

Another form of lexical attrition comprises opaque expressions. This term is used to mean the class of idiomatic expressions that are particularly impervious to word-by-word analysis. The traditional meaning of idiom as a complex conventionalized unit which cannot be explained in terms of regular rule-governed syntactic or semantic restrictions is adopted here. As hypothesized, L2 opaque expressions were judged grammatical in the L1 attriters' native language.

Morpholexical attrition was found in the perception of gender in the noun phrase and in the perception of agreement of the constituents of the noun phrase across clauses. Most notably, ungrammatical, unmarked forms in Greek were judged grammatical by the participants in this study.

Case was investigated in the morphosyntactic domain. Similarly, Greek ungrammatical, unmarked forms, such as those of the accusative case, assigned to complements by most verbs, were judged grammatical.

Fifty-seven Greek-English bilinguals and twenty-one Greek monolingual were tested in all four areas. Results indicated that L2 use affects L1 competence in terms of metaphorical verb sense and opaque expressions. In addition, results showed that L1 marked morpholexical forms and morphosyntactic rules undergo leveling or regularization.


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