Vilka faktorer predicerar behärskningen av svenskans preteritumböjning? Om finska gymnasieelevers inlärning av femton vardagliga verb
In this study, we examine how Finnish upper secondary students learning Swedish as a second language inflect Swedish verbs in the past tense. We analyze the answers by 351 students to an online quiz regarding the inflection of 15 common verbs using mixed effects logistic regression modeling. Our results indicate that the correctness of the answers in the verb inflection task can be predicted based on a combination of linguistic and extralinguistic variables. Specifically, with respect to linguistic variables, verb frequency and vowel shift (ablaut) are significant predictors of the correctness of the answers, whereas the traditional distinction between strong and weak verbs is not. With respect to extralinguistic variables, the correctness of the answers is significantly predicted by the students’ gender, age/exposure and level of motivation. Furthermore, we demonstrate through error analysis that, initially, many students follow the same pattern for past tense formation; the verbs’ infinitive form is interpreted as their stem and the past tense suffix -de is overgeneralized to most verbs. On a methodological level, we argue that multivariate analyses allow for a more detailed description of the acquisition order of language structures than what has been achieved by less sophisticated quantitative analyses in prior research, and we encourage other scholars to build on our work by expanding it both in terms of the number of verbs as well as the number of predictor variables.