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GRS LX 700 Language Acquisition and Linguistic Theory. Week 10. Transfer and the “initial state” for L2A, plus some language universals for good measure. “UG in L2A” so far. UG principles (Subjacency, Binding Theory) UG parameters of variation

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GRS LX 700 Language Acquisition and Linguistic Theory


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    1. GRS LX 700Language Acquisition andLinguistic Theory Week 10. Transfer and the “initial state” for L2A, plus some language universals for good measure

    2. “UG in L2A” so far • UG principles • (Subjacency, Binding Theory) • UG parameters of variation • (Subjacency bounding nodes, Binding domains, null subject, VT) • Justified in large part on the basis of L1. • the complexity of language • the paucity of useful data • the uniform success and speed of L1’ers acquiring language.

    3. “UG in L2A” so far • To what extent is UG still involved in L2A? • Speaker’s “interlanguage” shows a lot of systematicity, complexity which also seems to be more than the linguistic input could motivate. • The question then: Is this systematicity “left over” (transferred) from the existing L1, where we know the systematicity exists already? Or is L2A also building up a new system like L1A? • We’ve seen that universal principles which operated in L1 seem to still operate in L2 (e.g., ECP and Japanese case markers).

    4. Initial state: 3 options • The L1 (parameter settings) • Schwartz & Sprouse (1996) “Full Transfer/Full Access” • Parts of the L1 (certain parameter settings) • Eubank (1993/4) “Valueless Features Hypothesis” • Vainikka & Young-Scholten (1994) “Minimal trees” • Clean slate (UG defaults) • Epstein et. al (1996) • Platzack (1996) “Initial Hypothesis of Syntax”

    5. Vainikka & Young-Scholten • V&YS propose that phrase structure is built up from just a VP all the way up to a full clause. • Similar to Radford’s L1 proposal except that there is an order of acquisition even past the VP (i.e., IP before CP). Also similar to Rizzi’s L1 “truncation” proposal. And of course, basically the same as Vainikka’s L1 tree building proposal. • V&YS propose that both L1A and L2A involve this sort of “tree building.”

    6. Vainikka (1993/4), L1A CP C AgrP C • An adult clause, where kids end up. • The subject pronoun is in nominative case (I, he, they), a case form reserved for SpecAgrP in finite clauses (cf. me, him, them or my, his, …). that Agr DP Agr TP she T T VP will V V DP eat lunch

    7. Vainikka (1993/4), L1A CP C AgrP C • Very early on, kids are observed to use non-nominative subjects almost all the time (90%) like: • My make a house • Nina (2;0) • The fact that the subject is non-nominative can be taken as an indication that it isn’t in SpecAgrP. that Agr DP Agr TP she T T VP will V V DP eat lunch

    8. Vainikka (1993/4), L1A • Vainikka’s proposal was that children who do this are in a VP stage, where their entire syntactic representation of a sentence consists of a verb phrase. VP DP V V DP my make a house

    9. Vainikka (1993/4), L1A AgrP • As children get older, they start using nominative subjects • I color me • Nina (2;1) • But interestingly, they do not use nominative subjects in wh-questions • Know what my making? • Nina (2;4) Agr DP Agr TP I T T VP V V DP color me

    10. Vainikka (1993/4), L1A AgrP • I color me • Nina (2;1) • The nominative subject tells us that the kid has at least AgrP in their structure. • Know what my making? • Nina (2;4) • Normally wh-movement implies a CP (wh-words are supposed to move into SpecCP). Agr DP Agr TP I T T VP V V DP color me

    11. Vainikka (1993/4), L1A AgrP • Know what my making? • Nina (2;4) • However, if there is no CP, Vainikka hypothesizes that the wh-word goes to the highest specifier it can go to—SpecAgrP. Which means that the subject can’t be there, and hence can’t be nominative. Agr DPi Agr TP what T T VP DP V ti V my making

    12. Vainikka (1993/4), L1A CP C AgrP C • Finally, kids reach a stage where the whole tree is there and they use all nominative subjects, even in wh-questions. that Agr DP Agr TP she T T VP will V V DP eat lunch

    13. Vainikka (1993/4) • So, to summarize the L1A proposal: Acquisition goes in (syntactically identifiable stages). Those stages correspond to ever-greater articulation of the tree. • VP stage: • No nominative subjects, no wh-questions. • AgrP stage: • Nominative subjects except in wh-questions. • CP stage: • Nominative subjects and wh-questions.

    14. Vainikka & Young-Scholten’s primary claims about L2A • Vainikka & Young-Scholten take this idea and propose that it also characterizes L2A… That is… • L2A takes place in stages, grammars which successively replace each other (perhaps after a period of competition). • The stages correspond to the “height” of the clausal structure.

    15. Vainikka & Young-Scholten • V&YS claim that L2 phrase structure initially has no functional projections, and so as a consequence the only information that can be transferred from L1 at the initial state is that information associated with lexical categories (specifically, headedness). No parameters tied to functional projections (e.g., V->T) are transferred.

    16. Cross-sectional: 6 Korean, 6 Spanish, 11 Turkish. Longitudinal: 1 Spanish, 4 Italian. In the VP stage, speakers seem to produce sentences in which the headedness matches their L1 and not German. V&YS—headedness transfer

    17. V&YS—headedness transfer VP-i: L1 value transferred for head-parameter, trees truncated at VP. VP-ii: L2 value adopted for head-parameter, trees still truncated at VP

    18. Predictions CP C AgrP C • Different parts of the tree have different properties associated with them, and we want to think about what we would predict we’d see (if Vainikka & Young-Scholten are right) at the various stages. Agr DP Agr TP T T VP V V DP

    19. Predictions CP C AgrP C • T/Agr (=INFL): • Modals and auxiliaries appear there • Verbs, when they raise, raise to there. • Subject agreement is controlled there • C • Complementizers (that, if) appear there • Wh-questions involve movement to CP Agr DP Agr TP T T VP V V DP

    20. Predictions CP C AgrP C • So, if there is just a VP, we expect to find: • No evidence of verb raising. • No consistent agreement with the subject. • No modals or auxiliaries. • No complementizers. • No complex sentences (embedded sentences) • No wh-movement. Agr DP Agr TP T T VP V V DP

    21. At the VP stage, we find lack of verb raising (INFL and/or CP) auxiliaries and modals (generated in INFL) an agreement paradigm (INFL) complementizers (CP) wh-movement (CP) V&YS L2A—VP stage All came from Rosalinda (Sp.); three instances of wolle ‘want’ and five with is(t) ‘is’—evidence seems to be that she doesn’t control IP yet.

    22. V&YS L2A—VP stage • At the VP stage, we find lack of • verb raising (INFL and/or CP) • auxiliaries and modals (generated in INFL) • an agreement paradigm (INFL) • complementizers (CP) • wh-movement (CP) • Antonio (Sp): 7 of 9 sentences with temporal adverbs show adverb–verb order (no raising); 9 of 10 with negation showed neg–verb order. • Turkish/Korean (visible) verb-raising only 14%.

    23. V&YS L2A—VP stage • At the VP stage, we find lack of • verb raising (INFL and/or CP) • auxiliaries and modals (generated in INFL) • an agreement paradigm (INFL) • complementizers (CP) • wh-movement (CP) • No embedded clauses with complementizers. • No wh-questions with a fronted wh-phrase (at least, not that requires a CP analysis). • No yes-no questions with a fronted verb.

    24. V&YS L2A—TP stage • After the VP stage, L2 learners move to a single functional projection, which appears to be TP. • Modals and auxiliaries can start there. • Verb raising can take place to there. • Note: the TL TP is head-final, however. • Agreement seems still to be lacking (TP only, and not yet AgrP is acquired).

    25. V&YS L2A—TP stage • Characteristics of the TP stage: • optional verb raising (to T) • some auxiliaries and modals (to T) • lack of an agreement paradigm (not up to AgrP yet) • lack of complementizers (CP) • lack of wh-movement (CP) Now, Korean/Turkish speakers raise the verb around 46% of the time.

    26. V&YS L2A—AgrP stage • After the TP stage, there seems to be an AgrP stage (where AgrP is head-initial—different from the eventual L2 grammar, where AgrP should be head-final) • Properties of the AgrP stage: • verb raising frequent • auxiliaries and modals common • agreement paradigm acquired • some embedded clauses with complementizers • complex wh-questions attested.

    27. V&YS L2A—AgrP • Properties of the AgrP stage: • verb raising frequent • auxiliaries and modals common • agreement paradigm acquired • some embedded clauses with complementizers • complex wh-questions attested • Turkish/Korean speakers raising the verb 76% of the time. • CP structure? Seems to be “on its way in”, but V&YS don’t really have much to say about this.

    28. Summary of the proposed stages Vainikka & Young-Scholten

    29. Stages • So, L2’ers go through VP, TP, AgrP, (CP) stages… • An important point about this is that this does not mean that a L2 learner at a given point in time is necessarily in exactly one stage, producing exactly one kind of structure. • (My response on V&YS’s behalf to an objection raised by Epstein et al. 1996; V&YS’s endorsement should not be inferred.) • The way to think of this is that there is a progression of stages, but that adjacent stages often co-exist for a time—so, “between” the VP and TP stages, some utterances are VPs, some are TPs. • This might be perhaps comparable to knowledge of register in one’s L1, except that there is a definite progression.

    30. V&YS summary • So, Vainikka & Young-Scholten propose that L2A is acquired by “building up” the syntactic tree—that beginner L2’ers have syntactic representations of their utterances which are lacking the functional projections which appear in the adult L1’s representations, but that they gradually acquire the full structure. • V&YS also propose that the information about the VP is borrowed wholesale from the L1, that there is no stage prior to having just a VP. • Lastly, V&YS consider this L2A to be just like L1A in course of acquisition (though they leave open the question of speed/success/etc.)

    31. Problems with Minimal Trees • White (2003) reviews a number of difficulties that the Minimal Trees account has. • Data seems to be not very consistent. • Evidence for DP and NegP from V&YS’s own data. • E->F kids manage to get V left of pas (Grondin & White 1996) • but cf. Hawkins et al. next week. Also, these are kids who might have benefited from earlier exposure to French. • V&YS also propose at one point that V->T is the default value. • Some examples of early embedded clauses and SAI (evidence of CP) but V&YS’s criteria would also lead to the conclusion of no IP at the same point. (Gavruseva & Lardiere 1996).

    32. Problems with Minimal Trees • Criteria for stages are rather arbitrary. • V&YS count something as acquired if it appears more than 60% of the time. Why 60%? For kids, the arbitrary cutoff is often set at 90%. • Is morphology really the best indicator of knowledge? • Prévost & White, discussed a couple of weeks hence, say “no”— better is to look at the properties like word order that the functional categories are supposed to be responsible for. • To account for apparent V2 without CP, V&YS need a weird German story in which TP/AgrP starts out head-initial but is later returned to its proper head-final status.

    33. Paradis et al. (1998) • Paradis et al. (1998) looked at 15 English-speaking children in Québec, learning French (since kindergarten, interviewed at the end of grade one), and sought to look for evidence for (or against) this kind of “tree building” in their syntax. • They looked at morphology to determine when the children “controlled” it (vs. producing a default) and whether there was a difference between the onset of tense and the onset of agreement. • On one interpretation of V&YS, they predict that tense should be controlled before agreement, since TP is lower in the tree that AgrP.

    34. Agr reliably before T 3pl late (of agreements). Future late (of tenses). Paradis et al. (1998)

    35. Paradis et al. (1998) • So, the interpretation of this information might be that: • (Child) L2A does seem to progress in stages. • This isn’t strictly compatible with the tree building approach, however, if TP is lower than AgrP. It would require slight revisions to make this work out (not necessarily drastic revisions).

    36. Eubank: Valueless FeaturesHypothesis • Another contender for the title of Theory of the Initial State is the “Valueless Features Hypothesis” of Eubank (1993/4). • Like Minimal Trees, the VFH posits essentially that functional parameters are not initially set (not transferred from the L1). • Unlike Minimal Trees, the VFH does assume that the entire functional structure is there. But, e.g., for V->T, the parameter/feature value that determines whether V moves to T is “undefined”.

    37. VFH • The interpretation of a “valueless” feature is the crucial point here. It’s not clear really what this should mean, but Eubank takes it to mean something like “not consistently on or off”. Hence, again using V->T as an example, the verb is predicted to sometimes raise (V->T on) and sometimes not (V->T off). E.g., either is fine in L2 English of: • Pat eats often apples. • Pat often eats apples.

    38. VFH and V->T • In fact (as we’ll discuss next week more carefully), White did a well-known series of experiments on F>L2E learners that did show that the learners accepted both. • Pat eats often apples. • Pat often eats apples. • Eubank takes this as evidence for VFH, but White (1992, 2003) notes that it’s unexpected for the VFH that they don’t also allow verb raising past negation. • *Pat eats not apples. • Pat does not eat apples.

    39. Yuan (2001) and {F,E}>L2C • Yuan (2001) looked at E>L2C and F>L2C learners’ responses to alternative verb-adverb orders in Chinese. L1 Chinese allows only Adv-V order (no raising). • Zhangsan changchang kan dianshi. • *Zhangsan kan changchang dianshi. • But neither group (and notably not even F>L2C) ever produced/accepted the V-Adv order. *VFH, but also possibly *FTFA (to be discussed soon). • One further note: Yuan’s subjects were adults, White’s were children. This might have mattered.

    40. Eubank’s own experiments • Eubank & Grace (1998) tried an interesting methodology in an experiment to test for grammaticality of raised-verb structures in IL grammars. Something like a “lexical decision task” but with sentences (“are these the same or different?”), recording the reaction time, and based on the finding that native speakers are slower to react to ungrammatical sentences.

    41. Eubank & Grace (1998) • E&G tested C>L2E speakers, divided them into two groups based on a pretest of their production of subject-verb agreement (idea: “no-agreement” subjects would have not valued their features yet, “agreement” subjects have at least valued some of them). • Finding: No-agreement subjects acted like native speakers, agreement subjects didn’t differentiate between grammatical and ungrammatical verb-adverb orders. • Hmm.

    42. Eubank et al. (1997) • Same basic premises, different tasks: • Tom draws slowly jumping monkeys. • For a V-raiser, this should be ambiguous (is the jumping slow or is the drawing slow?). Eubank et al. (1997) used a kind of TVJ task to test this. • Even prior to looking at the results, one problem here is that this is fine in L1 English if slowly is taken as a parenthetical (“Tom draws— slowly— jumping monkeys”). But that’s the crucial interpretation that is supposed to show verb raising is grammatical. What could we conclude, no matter what the results are?

    43. Eubank et al. (1997) • The actual results didn’t go along very well with the predictions either. Pretty low acceptance rate of raised-V interpretations if they’re really supposed to be grammatical in the IL. And the agreement group wasn’t acting native-speaker-like either, even though they should have valued the feature. • Eubank et al. actually go further with the VFH, hypothesizing that this is not only the initial state, but also the inescapable final state—L2 features cannot be valued (hence the lack of serious improvement among the agreement group—”Local Impairment”, for next week).

    44. Schwartz 1998 • Promotes the idea that L2 patterns come about from full transfer and full access. • The entire L1 grammar (not just short trees) is the starting point. • Nothing stops parameters from being reset in the IL.

    45. Erdem (Haznedar 1995) • An initial SOV stage (transfer from Turkish) is evident, followed by a switch to SVO.

    46. N-Adj orderParodi et al. (1997) • jene drei interessanten Bücherthose three interesting.pl books • ku se-kwon-uy caemiissnun chaek-tulthat three-cl-gen interesting book-pl • ben-im pekçok inginç kitab-Im1sg-gen many interesting book-1sg • quei tre libri interessantithose three books interesting.pl • esos tres libros interesantes those three books interesting.pl

    47. N-Adj in Romance • The standard way of looking at N-Adj order in Romance (in terms of native speaker adult syntax) is like this: • Adj N is the base order • German, Korean, Turkish • N moves over Adj in Romance • Spanish, Italian • What did the L2’ers do learning German? DP D D NP N adjective N …

    48. Parodis 1997—N-Adj order

    49. So… • So, movement seems to be initially transferred, and has to be unlearned. • The evidence for the tree building approach doesn’t seem all that strong anymore. • No nice Case results like in L1. • Higher parameters seem to transfer (*VFH, *Minimal Trees) • Morphology and finiteness somewhat separate (to be discussed in two weeks).

    50. No transfer/Full access • Epstein, Flynn, and Martohardjono (1996) wrote a well-known BBS article endorsing the view that L2A is not only UG-constrained, but that it basically “starts over” with UG like L1A does. • Editorial comment: For such a public article, it really is not very well executed. Particularly grating is the mischaracterization and narrow readings of other theoretical approaches, but even their own position— which on its face doesn’t even seem viable— is very loosely argued. It’s worth reading, but the responses are at least as important as the article.