SLA and Linguistics

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SLA and linguistics. The field of SLA can be considered interdisciplinary in that it has been influence by many other disciplines.At the same time, SLA can also influence other areas as well.Linguistics (Ch. 6, 7)Describe learner systemPsychology (Ch. 8)How learner creates systemSociolinguistics (Ch. 9)Social factors influencing acquisition.

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SLA and Linguistics

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1. SLA and Linguistics Gass & Selinker Chapter 6

2. SLA and linguistics The field of SLA can be considered interdisciplinary in that it has been influence by many other disciplines. At the same time, SLA can also influence other areas as well. Linguistics (Ch. 6, 7) Describe learner system Psychology (Ch. 8) How learner creates system Sociolinguistics (Ch. 9) Social factors influencing acquisition

3. “Learning problem” How can learners acquire the complexities of a second human language? All areas of SLA ultimately strive to answer this question, although from different perspectives or with different focuses and motivations.

4. Chapter outline Language Universals Typological Universals Test Cases Summary Tense and Aspect The Aspect Hypothesis The Discourse Hypothesis Phonology Conclusion and Discussion

5. Language Universals

6. What are Language Universals? A linguistic universal is a statement that is true for all natural languages. For example: All languages have nouns and verbs. All spoken languages have consonants and vowels. Not sign languages, since phonological universals have no relevance in signed language Related to linguistic typology Research on universals intends to reveal information about how the human brain processes language. The field was largely pioneered by Greenberg, who from a set of some thirty languages derived a set of basic universals (mostly syntactical) Something that is impossible in any world language will also be impossible (and thus not documented) in an ILSomething that is impossible in any world language will also be impossible (and thus not documented) in an IL

7. Language Universals There are two primary approaches to the study of language universals that have influence SLA: Typological universals Universal Grammar (Ch. 7) Why study ‘language universals’? Certain principles that apply to native languages also appear to apply to interlanguages In other words, both are ‘natural systems’ that are rule governed. Something that is impossible in any world language will also be impossible (and thus not documented) in an ILSomething that is impossible in any world language will also be impossible (and thus not documented) in an IL

8. If ILs are natural languages… Learners can produce utterances that violate the norms of both their target language and their native language. However, if ILs are natural, we assume that any form that appears in an IL is a form that is acceptable in SOME world language.

9. The role of universals Interlanguage Structural Conformity Hypothesis: All universals that are true for primary langauges are also true for interlanguages. Eckman, Moravcsik &Wirth 1989

10. The role of universals How do universals affect L2 development? Completely shape learner grammar >result in NO violations of any universal Affect order of acquisition >marked forms acquired last >fewer errors in less marked forms Contribute to the shaping of learner grammar

11. Typological Universals The study of typological universals aims to discover similarities and differences in languages around the world. The goal is to determine what ‘types’ of languages are possible and what are not. Typological universals can be framed in terms of implications: “If language L has feature X, it will also have feature Y.” They can also be stated as absolutes: “Languages with dominant VSO order are always prepositional.”

12. Typological Universals Test cases – examine typological universals from an SLA perspective In groups of 2 or 3, discuss the test case I assign you. Be prepared to summarize the universal and its implications for your classmates. Accessibility Hierarchy Acquisition of Questions Voiced/Voiceless Consonants

13. Typological Universals Summary SLA can contribute to the general study of language by showing that universal constraints are operative in newly created languages, but only if we can also explain why a particular universal is universal. There must be a relationship between the structures in question in an implicational universal, i.e., a relationship between marked and unmarked forms.

14. Tense and Aspect

15. Tense and Aspect We have seen that the acquisition of particular morphemes has long been of interest for L1 and L2 researchers. Past tense and aspect markers have received particular attention. Although the original emphasis was on what morphemes were acquired and in what order, more recent work attempts to classify morpheme acquisition differently.

16. Aspect Hypothesis Anderson & Shirai 1994 “first and second language learners will initially be influenced by the inherent semantic aspect f verbs or predicates in the acquisition of tense and aspect markers associated with or affixed to these verbs” This semantic approach focuses on lexical aspect in SLA, although work in L1 had also carried out similar studies.

17. Aspect Hypothesis Past tense (i.e. preterit) development spreads from: achievements > accomplishments > activities > states Imperfect tense appears later and develops in the reverse order: states > activities > accomplishments > achievements Hence tense-aspect morphology acquisition is constrained by lexical information.

18. Aspect Hypothesis Numerous studies support this hypothesis in a variety of L1~L2 language pairs. In pairs or groups of three, summarize the findings of these studies as they relate to the Aspect Hypothesis: Housen 1995 (p. 156-7) Rohde (p. 157)

19. Discourse Hypothesis Another approach to examining the development of L2 tense-aspect morphology is through discourse analysis: Look at the structure of the discourse in which utterances appear Background and foreground information Foreground = new information, moves time forward Background = supporting information, nothing new, elaborates on foreground information

20. Discourse Hypothesis The Discourse Hypothesis claims that learners use emerging verbal morphology to distinguish foreground from background in narratives (Bardovi-Harlig 1994). Achievements are most likely to be inflected for simple past, regardless of grounding. Accomplishments are next most likely type of predicate to be marked in simple past; more so if foreground than background. Activities are least likely (of dynamic verbs) to carry simple past, but more if foreground than background. In background, activities show use of progressives.

21. Thus it’s not so much a question of which hypothesis is right, but rather an issue of the Aspect Hypothesis and discourse structure interacting to account for the way learners construct tense-aspect morphology and meaning.

22. Phonology

23. Phonology Second language phonology is less studied than other areas of linguistics, although shares certain similarities with syntax, morphology, etc. Similarity: some TL phonology is influence by NL Difference: can’t always talk about same concepts as with other areas of linguistics, i.e., avoidance is not as feasible Difference: L2 phonology is almost always readily identified

24. Markedness Differential Hypothesis Eckman, 1977 Came about as a result of the failures (and partial successes) of Contrastive Analysis with respect to L2 phonology Marked = features that are less common in world languages and therefore assumed to be more inherently difficult. MDH claims that: Unmarked structures are easier to learn/acquire than marked Moving from a language where feature X is marked to a language where it is unmarked is less problematic than the converse.

25. Markedness Differential Hypothesis In pairs, review and summarize the Markedness Differential Hierarchy for Voice Contrast (pp. 160-161). What Eckman (and others’) work shows is that in phonology the role of the NL is perhaps stronger than in other linguistic areas. However, there are still other factors, universals etc., at play.

26. L2 phonology We must consider the influence of: Native language Universal facts Developmental facts Sociolinguistic information Beebe 1980: social values of sounds in the NL can affect how and when those sounds are transferred to the TL.

27. L2 phonology: syllable structure Recent work has examined not only specific segments but syllable structure as well. Learners attempt to transfer their NL syllable structure preferences English “snob” > Spanish “esnob” English “plastic” > Arabic [bilastik] Syllabification of the word “animal”

28. L2 phonology: syllable structure Recent work has examined not only specific segments but syllable structure as well. Markedness also plays a role Less marked = CV, more marked = CVC Moving from less marked language to more marked shown to be more difficult. Universal tendencies also important Learners revert to a universal (CV) structure regardless of L1 Simplification of consonant clusters Epenthesis Deletion of unstressed syllables

29. Summary Based on the contents of this chapter, how would you summarize the role of linguistic factors in SLA? For morphology/syntax? For phonology?

30. Discussion Data analysis problems

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