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Negation in L2 acquisition: implications for language genesis. Henri ëtte de Swart Utrecht/NIAS. The “windows” approach. Early second language acquisition is a restricted linguistic system that might provide a “window” on language genesis (Jackendoff 2002, Botha 2004).

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negation in l2 acquisition implications for language genesis

Negation in L2 acquisition: implications for language genesis

Henriëtte de Swart


the windows approach
The “windows” approach
  • Early second language acquisition is a restricted linguistic system that might provide a “window” on language genesis (Jackendoff 2002, Botha 2004).
  • Features of restricted systems permit inferences towards language genesis.
pre logical and truth functional negation
Pre-logical and truth-functional negation
  • Negation: universal category of natural language (Dahl 1979).
  • No truth-functional negation in animal communication. (Horn 1989, Heine and Kuteva 2006).
  • Truth-functional negation: not-exist, deny, logical connective .
  • Pre-logical negation: refuse, resist, correct.
negation recursion
Negation: recursion
  • Semantic recursion: from p to p.
  • Syntactic recursion: from S to not S.
  • Human language is a recursive system.
  • Do animal communication systems lack recursivity? (Chomsky, Hauser and Fitch 2002).
optimality theory ot
Optimality Theory (OT)
  • Optimality Theory: theory of grammar inspired by connectionism (Prince and Smolensky 1997), Smolensky and Legendre (2006).
  • Grammar: harmonic system of interacting, soft constraints.
  • Constraints are universal, ranking is language specific (typology).
ot constraints
OT constraints
  • Faithfulness constraints: input-output correspondence: FAITH
  • Markedness constraints: output oriented only: *STRUCTURE
  • Constraints may conflict: ranking determines optimal outcome.
ot and language acquisition
OT and language acquisition
  • Developmental approach: shifting rankings, towards target grammar.
  • Gradual: constraints shift one at a time.
  • Start: *STRUCTURE >> FAITH
  • (no production, no interpretation).
l2 acquisition corpus
L2 acquisition: corpus
  • ESF project: immigrants in Europe, untutored L2 acquisition (Perdue 1993).
  • Stages: pre-basic variety, basic variety, post-basic variety.
  • Observation: pre-basic and basic variety display features that are independent of source and target language. Window?
l2 acquisition stages
L2 acquisition: stages
  • Pre-basic variety: nominal structure, topic-focus articulation.
  • Basic variety: predicate-argument structure, lexical categories, noun-verb distinction.
  • Post-basic variety: towards target language.
negation in pre basic variety
Negation in pre-basic variety
  • Holophrastic negation:
  • IN: c’est un accident ‘It is an accident.’
  • SF non + *un* manifestation. ‘No, a demonstration.’
  • Function of refusal, rejection or correction (pre-logical negation).
topic comment structure
Topic-comment structure
  • X + NEG:
  • IN: So you are having an easy time yes? IE: For me yes + for my manager the restaurant no.
  • X functions as topic, NEG as what we say about the topic.
focus sensitive negation
Focus sensitive negation
  • NEG + X:
  • SF *ahi no* [nepa] la ‘there, not there/don’t look there’
  • PE daughter’s dad + no job ‘The girl’s father doesn’t have a job.’
  • X provides focus of negation.
negation in basic variety
Negation in basic variety
  • (NP) + NEG + V (+ Y):
  • SF mais moi [nepadekriBir] ‘But me, I don’t write.’
  • IE: I dont see very well
  • Mad: Ik niet *hapis* gaan. ‘I not prison go.’
  • Negation: link between topic and focus.
ot constraints negation
OT constraints negation
  • FNeg: Be faithful to negation, i.e. reflect the non-affirmative nature of the input in the output.
  • *Neg: Avoid negation in the output.
  • FNeg: faithfulness constraint.
  • *Neg: markedness constraint.
  • FNeg and *Neg are in conflict!
utterance structure in pre basic variety
Utterance structure in pre-basic variety
  • Utterance structure: topic-focus articulation.
  • OT constraint: FocusLast
  • FocusLast: new information comes last in the sentence.
negation in pre basic variety1
Negation in pre-basic variety
  • Negation of a topic: X + NEG
negation in pre basic variety2
Negation in pre-basic variety
  • Focus sensitive negation: NEG + X
negation in basic variety1
Negation in basic variety
  • (NP) + NEG + V (+ NP)
  • Negation: link between topic and focus.
  • Noun-verb distinction: predicate-argument structure, thematic roles.
  • Negation: operator status
  • Consequence: truth-conditional negation, semantic recursion.
negation as operator
Negation as operator
  • Mirror principle (de Hoop & de Swart 2000):  < : operator < scope: topic < focus. The linear order of two constituents  and  corresponds to the order operator-scope, which corresponds to the order topic-focus.
utterance structure in basic variety
Utterance structure in basic variety
  • NegFirst (focus version): Negation precedes its focus.
  • NegFirst: special instance of mirror principle.
post basic variety
Post-basic variety
  • Typological preference for preverbal position of negation (Horn 1989).
  • NegFirst (grammaticized version): Negation precedes the (finite) verb.
language genesis
Language Genesis
  • Conceptual stage: no language (no production, no interpretation).
  • Mental structure of primates pre-dates the emergence of language.
  • Mental structure includes pre-logical negation, (possibly) no recursion.
  • *Structure >> Faith (proto-constraints).
motivation for language
Motivation for language
  • Motivation for language: communication, negotiation of power, distribution of labor, resources in social setting, teaching of children.
  • Transition from conceptual stage to holophrastic stage.
holophrastic stage
Holophrastic stage
  • Holophrastic negation: pre-logical negation (rejection, refusal, disagreement).
  • Negation useful in manipulation, gossip, negotiation, teaching of children: motivates emergence even in holophrastic stage.
  • FNeg >> *Structure
  • FNeg >> *Neg.
  • Transition from holophrastic stage to communication with concatenation of words.
  • Holistic view (Wray) versus synthetic view (Tallerman).
  • Results from L2 support synthetic view: concatenation of items already found in holophrastic stage.
utterance structure in protolanguage
Utterance structure in Protolanguage
  • No lexical categories.
  • Utterances structured by topic-focus articulation.
  • FNeg >> *Neg, FocusLast.
semantic recursion
Semantic recursion
  • Noun-verb distinction: introduction of predicate-argument structure, thematic roles (agent, theme, goal, etc.).
  • Conventionalization of negation as focus sensitive operator: link between topic and focus.
  • Operator status: semantic recursion!
  • Syntax: mirror principle (NegFirstfoc).
towards syntactic negation
Towards syntactic negation
  • Emergence of syntactic principles: no direct connection between focus and word order.
  • NegFirstfocus NegFirstgram.
  • Preverbal position of negation: ‘natural’ syntax.
  • Syntactic recursion follows semantic recursion.
  • Early L2 as “window” on language genesis.
  • Modeling of developmental path in OT: sequence of grammars, gradual change, cross-modularity.
  • Semantic recursion precedes (and triggers?) syntactic recursion.
want to read more
Want to read more?
  • Negation in early L2: a “window” on language genesis. AI Preprint serie, Utrecht University.