Our main objective in this paper is to show how linguistic properties can be transferred from one system to another. Consequences of transfer are evaluated, both positive and negative, for the acquisition of possessives in French L2 or L3 by Norwegian learners. We take as a starting point a comparative description of the possessive systems in French and Norwegian and examine interlanguage grammars of adult learners of French both in a Norwegian university setting and in an immersion context. On the basis of results from production-comprehension tests we can predict and explain interlanguage errors in the students' L2-grammar (negative transfer) using comparative grammatical constraints (reflexive-irreflexive contrasts, binding constraints, explicit marking of the possessor, orientation towards the possessor or the possessum, etc.). We can also predict cases where the learners make fewer errors or no errors at all (positive transfer). In this way we are able to measure the importance of transfer, both negative and positive, for the acquisition of French as foreign language by Norwegian adult learners.
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