I think (that) something’s missing: Complementizer deletion in non-native e-mails

Mercedes Durham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aspects tied to sociolinguistic competence are not often examined in non-native English acquisition. This is particularly true for features where the variants are neither stylistically nor socially constrained, but rather are acceptable in all circumstances. Learning to use a language fully, however, implies being able to deal with this type of ‘difficulty’, and understanding what type of variable features non-native speakers acquire with ease and which ones they do not may help us better understand more general processes of second language acquisition. By comparing the rates of complementizer deletion of non-native to native speakers and examining their distributions across various internal and external factors, this paper addresses these issues and offers an example of acquisition of what is, in some ways, an invisible variant. Furthermore, by focusing on a Swiss student association, the paper is also able to compare the patterns of French, German and Italian native-speakers, to examine to what extent they differ in English.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-445
Number of pages25
JournalStudies in Second Language Learning and Teaching
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


  • sociolinguistic competence
  • complementation
  • complementizer deletion
  • zero complementizer


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