DIANA MILENA CUBILLOS SANCHEZ
SYNTACTIC DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ENGLISH AND SPANISH
UNIVERSITY OF QUINDIO SCHOOL OF EDUCATION MODERN LANGUAGES PROGRAM ARMENIA-QUINDIO
SYNTACTIC DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ENGLISH AND SPANISH.
There are a number of syntactic operations that differ in English and Spanish, all of which are subject to forward transfer by Spanish speakers learning English as a second language. Children who have learned Spanish and are in the process of learning English are likely to use syntactic cues from Spanish in English until they have had enough English exposure or instruction to learn the cues in English. Word Order Word order, which was mentioned in the introduction of this paper, is one such area. Word order in Spanish is very flexible, while in English the prevailing word order is subject-verb-object (SVO). In Spanish the phrase “Juan hit me” can be expressed as either “Me pegó Juan” or “Juan me pegó.” As a result, a Spanish speaker learning English might transfer the flexible word order of Spanish to English to produce “Me hit Juan” or “Juan me hit.” Another syntactic difference between English and Spanish is in the use of pronouns. In English pronouns are required after the subject is introduced while in Spanish pronouns are commonly dropped. The pair of sentences “Mary went to the store. She bought bread” would be translated to Spanish as “Mary fue a la tienda. Compró pan.” So a child who transfers L1 cues to L2 might say “Mary went to the store. Bought bread,” this is the literal translation. Again, this type of production is not evidence of a disorder but of a difference resulting from L1 influence. Negation The production of negatives also differs in Spanish and English. In English, single negatives are used while in Spanish double negatives are common. For example, a proficient English speaker might say “I do not want anything” while the Spanish translation would be “No quiero nada” (literally “No I want nothing”). It is not uncommon to hear Spanish-speaking children learning English use double negatives in English, such as “I no want nothing” or “I don’t want nothing.” Plurals Another example of a syntactic difference between Spanish and English is the marking of plurals, which are marked once in English but are double marked in Spanish. In Spanish “the big trees” would be “los arboles grandes,” which translates literally to “the trees bigs.” Forward cue transfer might result in double plural marking in English for those who have not learned the single plural marking cue of English. Grammar - Verb/Tense: Although Spanish is a much more heavily inflected language than English, there are many aspects of verb grammar that are similar. The major problem for the Spanish learner is that there is no one-to-one correspondence in the use of the tenses. So, for example, a Spanish learner might incorrectly use a simple tense instead of a progressive or a future one: She has a shower instead of She's having a shower; I help you after school instead of I'll help you after school. Problematic for beginners is the formation of interrogatives or negatives in English. The absence of an
auxiliary in such structures in Spanish may cause learners to say: Why you say that? / Who he saw? / Do you saw him? / I no see him. / I not saw him. Vocabulary: Due to shared Latin influence English and Spanish have many cognates, and the corresponding collection of false friends, such as eventual(English translation > possible) or particular (English translation > private). Since the Latin-derived words in English tend to be more formal, the Spanish student will benefit when reading academic text. He or she may sound too formal, however, if using such words in everyday spoken English. Conversely, phrasal verbs, which are an essential aspect of colloquial English, are difficult for Spanish learners and may obstruct listening comprehension. Long noun groups such as the standard language classroom teacherstudent interaction pattern, commonly found in academic English text, are troublesome for Spanish speakers, whose language post-modifies nouns. Miscellaneous: Spanish has a strong correspondence between the sound of a word and its spelling. The irregularity of English in this respect causes predictable problems when Spanish learners write a word they first meet in spoken language or say a word first met in written language. A specific problem concerns the spelling of English words with double letters. Spanish has only 3 double-letter combinations cc, ll, rr. English, in comparison, has 5 times as many. Spanish learners often reduce English double letters to a single one, or overcompensate by doubling a letter unnecessarily; for example hopping for the present participle of hope. Spanish syntax
Statements Flexible word order
Relatively rigid word order
Modifiers Noun + adjective word order
Adjective + noun word order
Questions No auxiliary
Auxiliary Ex. am/is/are, do/does/ did
Where you went? for Where did you go. Or Why you no share? for Why didnâ€™t you share?
Pronouns Dropping of pronouns
Maintenance of pronouns
Is hot today for It is hot today.
Negation Double negatives
Plurality Double marking of
Single marking of
Examples of forward transfer Juan me hit for Juan hit me.
She is a girl very nice for She is a very nice girl
I no want nothing for I donâ€™t want anything. The bigs trees for The big trees.
REFERENCES (The differences between English and Spanish, 2013; The differences between English and Spanish, 2013)
Spanish-influenced English: Typical semantic and syntactic patterns of the English language learner Ellen Stubbe Kester and Brenda K. Gorman