LING212- SLAThe L2 initial state Florencia Franceschina
The L2 initial state = unconscious linguistic knowledge that the L2 learner starts out with in advance of having contact with the L2 input
What exactly does the initial state consist of? In groups of 3-4, discuss the question above. Think about: • What knowledge learners have when they begin to learn the L2 • How they start to build up their L2 knowledge • How new knowledge is added to the knowledge of the initial state (You can draw on your own experience as an L2 learner or as a teacher.)
Example Look at the sample data from Arkady and Roman (both 12;4) . They are twin brothers from Flint (US) who were born in Russia and emigrated to the US with their parents 1 month prior to their taping session. Russian was the only language spoken at home. The twins had studied English in Russia for about 6 months and were studying English in school at the time of the investigation. Other participants in this session were Sveltana, their mother, and Tania Ionin, the investigator.
Theories of the L2 initial state Minimal Trees (Vainikka and Young-Scholten, 1994, 1996) vs Full Transfer/Full Access (Schwartz and Sprouse, 1994, 1996)
Some background concepts Phrase structure (1)
Full Transfer/Full Access (Schwartz and Sprouse, 1994, 1996) • Initial state=entire L1 grammar (except specific lexical items) • Development:- L2 input will trigger target-like development- learners are not stuck with L1 settings- ambiguous input could be a problem • Endstate: Convergence is possible, but not guaranteed
Supporting evidence:- Haznedar (1997)- White (1985, 1986)- Yuan (1998)- Slabakova (2000) • Counterevidence:- Yuan (2001)
Minimal Trees (Vainikka and Young-Scholten, 1994, 1996) • Initial state:- lack of functional categories- transfer of L1 lexical categories • Development:- full UG-inventory available- gradual emergence of FCs:lexical stage > FP stage > IP stage > CP stage- no L1 transfer of FCs • Endstate:Convergence is possible given enough exposure to the L2
Supporting evidence:- Vainikka and Young-Scholten (1994, 1996) • Counterevidence:- Evidence for the presence of FCs in the initial state (Haznedar, 1997; Vainikka and Young-Scholten, 1994, 1996; Grondin and White, 1996; Lakshmanan, 1993/94)- Development doesn’t seem to follow the predicted progression (Gavruseva and Lardiere, 1996)- Evidence of L1 transfer of FCs (Haznedar, 1997; Trahey and White, 1993)
Falsifiability problem How can we tell what is evidence of the initial state and what is evidence of stages beyond the initial state?
ExerciseGo back to Ionin’s data. Are they compatible with FT/FA? Are they compatible with MTs?
Reading White, L. 2003: Second language acquisition and Universal Grammar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Chapter 3, pp. 58-78)