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GRS LX 700 Language Acquisition and Linguistic Theory. Week 9. Parameter settings and transfer. Parameters. Languages differ in the settings of parameters (and in the pronunciations of the words, etc.).

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grs lx 700 language acquisition and linguistic theory

GRS LX 700Language Acquisition andLinguistic Theory

Week 9.Parameter settings and transfer

  • Languages differ in the settings of parameters (and in the pronunciations of the words, etc.).
  • To learn a second language (if the knowledge is comparable to that held by a native speaker of the target language) is to learn the parameter settings for that language.
  • Where do you keep the parameters from the second, third, etc. language? You don’t have a single parameter set two different ways, do you?
    • Almost certainly not. Also: “parameter resetting” doesn’t mean monkeying with your L1 parameter settings, it means setting your L2 parameter to its appropriate setting.
four views on the role of l1 parameters
Four views on the role of L1 parameters
  • UG is still around to constrain L2/IL, parameter settings of L1 are adopted at first, then parameters are reset to match L2.
  • UG does not constrain L2/IL but L1 does, L2 can adopt properties of L1 but can’t reset the parameters (except perhaps in the face of brutally direct evidence, e.g., headedness).
  • IL cannot be described in terms of parameter settings—it is not UG-constrained.
  • UG works the same in L1A and L2A. L1 shouldn’t have any effect.
some parameters that have been looked at in l2a
Some parameters that have been looked at in L2A
  • Pro drop (null subject)parameter
    • empty subjects allowed? Spanish yes, English no
  • Head parameter
    • head-complement order in X-bar structure; Japanese head-final, English head-initial
  • ECP/that-trace effect
    • *Who did you say that t left? English: yes, Dutch: no
  • Subjacency/bounding nodes
    • English: DP and IP, Italian/French: DP and CP
  • Verb movement
  • Binding theory parameters
verb movement and negation
Verb movement and negation
  • French moves (tensed) verbs to T.
    • Jean (ne) mange pas du chocolat.
    • Jean (n’)estpas bête.
  • English leaves verbs (but auxiliaries) in VP
    • John does not eat chocolate.
    • John is not dumb.
  • So French has set the V-to-T parameter on, English has set it off (except for be and have).
verb movement and adverbs
Verb movement and adverbs
  • This also predicts adverb order.
    • In English, you can never have an adverb between the verb and its object.
      • *John [eats often chocolate].
      • John often [eats chocolate].
    • In French, you put adverbs between the verb and the object.
      • Jean mange souvent [— du chocolat].
      • *Jean souvent [mange du chocolat].
interlanguage and ug
Interlanguage and UG
  • A major question we’re asking is:Are IL grammars constrained by UG?
  • That is, are people, as they learn a second language, “allowed to” posit rules/constraints in the IL that do not conform to UG—that is, that could not appear in any natural (native) language?
why parameters seem to be a good place to look
Why parameters seem to be a good place to look
  • One crucial property of the parameters (in the Principles and Parameters model) is that a single setting of the parameter can have effects in several places in the grammar of a language.
  • So verb-movement (V to T), which is set to “yes” in French, is responsible for:
    • The relative position of negation and the finite verb
    • The relative position of manner adverbs and the finite verb
why parameters seem to be a good place to look1
Why parameters seem to be a good place to look
  • In general, we have to say that (full) knowledge of the L2 is going to involve setting the parameters to the appropriate settings for the target language.
  • So, we can also look for the cluster of effects that are supposed to arise from a single parameter setting.
  • Is it the case that once a second language learner gets the verb-adverb order right, s/he also gets the verb-negation order right? If only one kind of verb (finite vs. nonfinite) moves to T, is it the finite verb?
white 1991
White (1991)
  • White observes that even sticking to adverbs, there is a small “cluster of properties” tied to the verb raising parameter:
  • In French (where V moves to T):
    • S Adv V order is disallowed
    • S V Adv Obj order is allowed.
  • In English (where V does not move to T):
    • S Adv V order is allowed
    • S V Adv Obj order is disallowed.
white 19911
White (1991)
  • Given this, it should be sufficient for a learner to learn the one which is allowed (e.g., in English that S Adv V order is allowed)—the V-to-T parameter can then be set (to off for English), and then the impossibility of the one which is disallowed (e.g., *S V Adv Obj order in English) should follow automatically if they’ve set the parameter in their IL.
white 19912
White (1991)
  • White’s study involved native speakers of French learning English.
  • Her subjects were children in grades 5 (average age 11) and 6 (average age 12) with very little prior English exposure and have very little English exposure outside the classroom.
  • The children entered a 5-month intensive ESL program where their schooling was devoted entirely to ESL.
white 19913
White (1991)
  • The subjects were divided into two groups, based on whether the ESL instruction included specific teaching on English adverb placement (the other group was taught question-formation instead).
  • Three months in, students took a “pretest” on adverb placement, after which the adverb group was trained on adverbs. After the teaching period, students took a test, then another at the end of the ESL program (about 5 weeks later). Finally, the (originally) 5th graders were retested a year later.
white 19914
White (1991)
  • Grammaticality judgment: Cartoon story with captions; if student thought caption was incorrect, they drew arrows to repair the word order.
  • Preference task: Students were given a sentence in two possible orders and asked to respond if both were good, neither was good, or only one (and which one) was good.
  • Manipulation task: Students were given cards with words on them and told to line them up to form a sentence; then asked if they could form another with the same cards, until they couldn’t continue.
white 1991 results
White (1991) results
  • Grammaticality judgment task:
  • Adverb group went from very high acceptance to SVAO to very low (native-speaker-like) levels at the first post-test, and remained there for the second one. The question group remained high throughout.
  • Adverb group when from moderate use of SAV to high (nearly native-speaker-like) levels at the first post-test, and remained there for the second one. The question group remained at moderate use throughout.
results judgments
The effect of instruction was pretty dramatic in the first and second post-tests. Explicit instruction helped. (SVAO score, SAV score) (Preference task—same).Results—judgments
white 1991 results1
White (1991) results
  • A couple of things to notice:
  • The question group was getting basically positive evidence only (adverb position was not explicitly taught). And they didn’t fare well on the tests.
  • The adverb group was getting explicit negative evidence and it seemed to help a lot.
  • Even the adverb group, while rejecting *SVAO, would not accept SAV as often/reliably as the native speakers—an apparent failure of predicted clustering.
  • White suggested essentially that for L2’ers verb raising is optional, but this doesn’t really get at the *SVAO result.
the one year later test
The one-year-later test
  • …A startling result when testing those kids who were helped so dramatically by instruction: the knowledge they gained didn’t last. Again, it doesn’t feel like a new parameter setting.(SVAO score)
white 19915
White (1991)
  • In fact, White also observed that while her Adverb group correctly ruled out *SVAOsentences in English after explicit instruction, they seemed to have incorrectly generalized this to also rule out SVAPP:
    • Mary walks quickly to school.
    • Mary quickly walks to school.
  • A 1992 article by Schwartz and Gubala-Ryzak discusses this and points out that this is not something that is possible in a natural language via parameter setting—this behavior can’t be the result of mis-set parameters, it must be some kind of prescriptive rule. White, in her response, basically agrees with respect to her particular subjects.
white 19916
White (1991)
  • In any event, White’s (1991) study didn’t show the strong support for parameter setting that it might have.
  • White’s study also seems to show that negative evidence seems to only have a very short-term effect on learning.
  • This leads us (and later White [1992] too) to guess that what the kids were learning was prescriptive rule-type knowledge, and not some kind of reorganization of their grammatical system (by setting a parameter).
types of input
Types of input
  • What White (1991) was trying to test was the effects of different kinds of input; negative input via explicit instruction on adverbs vs. positive input via exposure (without concentrating on adverbs specifically). In her “positive evidence” (question) group, very little advance was made—is positive evidence ineffectual?
  • White speculated that the kids in the question condition might not have actually heard many adverbs, after listening to some tapes of the classes. Perhaps they just didn’t have enough positive evidence?
  • White and Trahey set out to test this by getting together another group of students and subjecting them to a “input flood” of adverb material—no explicit teaching of adverbs, but lots of examples of proper adverb placement in English. Then they ran basically the same tests on the kids as in the other experiment, including the “one year later” experiment. (Trahey 1996)
flooding results preference task
The effect of the input flood appears to have been an increase in the flood group’s use of SAVO, but no real change in anything else (in particular *SVAO).Flooding resultspreference task
  • The flooding experiment seems to have shown:
  • That the knowledge gained by flooding seems to be more persistentthan the knowledge gained by explicit instruction (i.e. adverb group).
  • That acceptance of SAVO and rejection of SVAO appear to be independent—the flooding group learned that SAVO was allowed and retained this knowledge, but still didn’t reject SVAO (actually a well-known persistent error in L2 English from French). This isn’t expected if the “knowledge” is a parameter setting that is supposed to have both effects.
  • In earlier research, White actually did some tests going both directions, and found that native English speakers learning French (that is, going the other way) appear to “catch on” to the allowability of SVAO, while—as we’ve seen—native French speakers learning English seem to hang on to SVAO indefinitely. Again, if this is a binary parameter, this appears to be a bit unexpected—is it easier to set one way than another?
hawkins et al 1993
Hawkins et al. (1993)
  • Hawkins et al. (1993) looked at this a little bit more closely (with the assistance of advances in theoretical syntax since White’s original study), looking in particular at English speakers learning French.
  • In particular, the question Hawkins et al. were asking was: Do English speakers learning French really manage to set the V-to-T parameter, given that it seems to be so difficult the other way?
hawkins et al 19931
Hawkins et al. (1993)
  • They found some evidence for a staged progression, where
    • The least advanced of their subjects could correctly place the verb with respect to negation (but not with respect to adverbs)
    • The more advanced subjects could correctly place the verb with respect to both negation and adverbs.
    • The rate correct for tous ‘all’ placement (cf. The students all went home) was lower than for the other two.
hawkins et al 19932
Hawkins et al. (1993)
  • Hawkins et al. suggest that this is compatible with a view in which the English speakers never really do set the V-to-T parameter to on, but instead rely on other mechanisms by which the English speakers can “fake” French.
hawkins et al 19933
Hawkins et al. (1993)
  • First stage:L2’ers seem to have the relative position of negation (pas) and the verb correct.
  • Hypothesis:They are treat pasit as if it were attached to the verb to begin with, rather than in the canonical “negation” slot; hence the verb will always appear to its left), regardless of whether the verb raises.
  • Some evidence:*Ne mange pas-t-il de…accepted (vs. grammatical Ne mange-t-il pas de…); *Ne voir pas son amie est un supplice pour lui… accepted (vs. grammatical Ne pas voir…).
  • And:This means the relative position of verbs and adverbs is not necessarily predicted to be correct. This basically has nothing to do with verb movement in the IL.
hawkins et al 19934
Hawkins et al. (1993)
  • Second stage:English speakers start to allow SVAO order in French (without the difficulty encountered by French speakers in disallowing it).
  • Hypothesis:It is a generalization of Heavy NP Shift, already possible in English, which allows postposing of “heavy” NPs, such as:
    • The boy ate — quickly[the hot soup his mother had made especially for him].
    • *The boy ate quickly it.
  • That’s a way to get a grammatical SVAO sentence in English under special circumstances. So, perhaps these L2’ers are “shifting the object rightward” (not moving the verb to T).
    • Evidence(?): About 40% of I group accept both SVAO and SAVO.
how are we doing
How are we doing?
  • It seems like the case for a UG-constrained IL grammar (“full access”) is not very strong at this point, despite White and Trahey’s best efforts. We’ve seen several things which did not seem to “set a parameter value” (explicit negative evidence, positive evidence even if in a flood), one of which was so temporary as to suggest that the knowledge was basically prescriptive. We’ve seen that even in cases where it looked like a parameter value was “set”, closer inspection revealed that it didn’t act parameter-like—it didn’t show the cluster of properties.
  • We have yet to really see any reason to believe that a parameter can be set in L2A.
  • This clustering aspect of parametric settings is very important—if a L2’ers IL shows one “symptom” of a parameter setting but fails to show others, then this is quite good evidence that the parameter was not set, but that there is something else going on
    • or, alternatively, that something else is blocking the other “symptoms” which should correlate.
the null subject parameter
The null subject parameter
  • Adult languages differ in whether they require overt subjects or not.
  • English does:
    • *Go to the movies tonight.
  • Italian and Spanish do not:
    • Vado al cinema stasera. (Italian)
    • Voy al cine esta noche. (Spanish)‘(I) go to the movies tonight.’
the null subject parameter1
The null subject parameter
  • There is a significant cluster of properties that seems to go along with be a “null subject” (a.k.a. “pro drop”) language..
    • Subject pronouns can be omitted in tensed clauses.
      • (And generally are except to indicate contrast)
    • Expletive subjects are null. (it rains).
    • Subjects may be postposed. (ha telefonato Gianni)
    • There is no that-trace effect.
      • *Who did you say that left?
    • Subject-verb agreement is “rich” or uniform.
white 1985 1986
White (1985, 1986)
  • Compared two groups of subjects learning English:
    • 32 native speakers of (Latin American) Spanish and 2 native speakers of Italian
    • 37 native speakers of Québec French
  • Did a test of grammaticality judgments, as well as a question formation test:
    • Mary believes that Fred will call his mother.
    • Who does Mary believe that Fred will call?
    • Mary believes that Fred will call his mother.
    • Who does Mary believe will call his mother?
null subject parameter
Null subject parameter
  • Spanish (+NS) L1 learning English (–NS)
    • An error constituting transfer of +NS would be omitting a subject in an English sentence, which requires a subject.
  • English (–NS) L1 learning Spanish (+NS)
    • Transfer of –NS? Trickier—have to look for context where Spanish would definitely drop the subject, and see if English speakers incorrectly retain the subject. Even then, does that mean the Spanish learner doesn’t have the parameter down, or just hasn’t worked out the pragmatics of where a subject should be dropped?
null subject parameter white 1985 gj task
Percent correct at identifying ungrammatical (U) as ungrammatical and grammatical (G) as grammatical.

Spanish is +NS, French is –NS, English –NS

Probable methodological problems with VS, SV, and that-trace sentences.

VS order best with unaccusatives and needs a discourse context. For that-t sentences, vocabulary not controlled for and 100% could be achieved by a yes-machine.

Null subject parameterWhite (1985), GJ task
null subject parameter white 1985 q formation
Null subject parameterWhite (1985), Q formation

Spanish (+NS) learning English (–NS) were more likely to make that-trace errors.

Elizabeth believes that her sister will be late.

Who does Elizabeth believe (*that) t will be late?

null subject parameter1
Null subject parameter
  • So, these +NS Spanish speakers accepted subjectless English sentences around 40% of the time (vs. 10% for French speakers), they produced that-trace errors 70% of the time (vs. 40% for French speakers).
  • There is some effect at least of the ±NS setting of the L1.
  • Is it transfer of the parameter value? Well, if so, there should be “clustering”—is there?
    • Seems like “no”—VS rejected by both groups. Error in methodology? Should have been unaccusative? Not actually a consequence of the NS parm after all?
null subject parameter phinney 1987
Null subject parameterPhinney (1987)
  • English->Spanish and Spanish->English
    • Perhaps questionable methodology (written, exam in one case, class composition assignment in the other, Spanish speakers had English in school—perhaps not entirely learned as an adult, English speakers only had exposure in college), but…
null subject parameter phinney 19871
Omission of pleonastic pronoun subjects.

can’t be omitted in English, must be omitted in Spanish.

English->Spanish (SSL) always omitted pleonastic.

Spanish->English (ESL) sometimes omitted pleonastic.

Spanish: Carrying over [+NS] from L1.

English: Not carrying over [–NS] from L1.

Null subject parameterPhinney (1987)
null subject parameter phinney 19872
Why would [+NS] be transferred and not [–NS]?

Perhaps there is a default (first setting) of the null subject parameter: [+NS]. (cf. last week)

Learners of a [–NS] language need to change that parameter.

Learners of a [+NS] language already have it right.

Null subject parameterPhinney (1987)
null subject parameter phinney 19873
If [+NS] is the default, occurrence of overt pleonastic pronouns could serve as evidence that the language is [–NS]; the non-default (marked) value can be learned.

Since the more obvious “is the subject missing?” predicts a default the other way—assume [-NS] until contrary evidence arrives.

Null subject parameterPhinney (1987)
a supplement white travis maclachlan 1992
A supplement: White, Travis, Maclachlan (1992)
  • wh-question formation Malagasy->English L2’ers.
  • Malagasy: subject-object asymmetry from English appears to be reversed (which can be explained by reference to the syntax of this VOS language):
    • *Who does Rasoa believe [t will be buying rice]?
    • Who was [that t will be buying rice] believed by Rosoa
  • In fact only the subject can be extracted in simple wh-questions:
    • Who t buys rice for the children?
    • *What does the man buy t for the children?
    • What is bought t for the children by the man?
wtm 1992
Question: Do M->E L2’ers get the English restrictions?

The restrictions differ in both directions; just learning object extraction is ok in English won’t be enough.

WTM 1992
wtm 19921
WTM 1992
  • 38 adult M speakers taking English.
  • Broken by course level and professor ratings into high intermediate (18) and low intermediate (20).
  • Grammaticality judgment task, and question formation task:
    • Sam believes that Ann stole his car.
    • *What does Sam believe the claim that Ann stole?
    • What does Sam believe that Ann stole?
wtm 19922
WTM 1992
  • Results: High intermediates were nearly as good as the controls at accepting grammatical sentences and rejecting ungrammatical ones (and avoiding violations when forming questions).
  • One place a big difference appeared is in accepting/producing that-trace violations (compared to controls) in production, yet in GJ task, controls actually accepted about 30% of the that-trace violations—so maybe this is a preference issue (controls prefer not to “violate that-trace”, L2’ers haven’t got that preference yet)
wtm 1992 conclude
WTM 1992 conclude…
  • Carrying over the settings from L1 won’t explain how the Malagasy speakers get the English grammaticality facts so closely (since the pattern is reversed, in places, but not everywhere).
  • The idea: There is still some “access to UG”—the options concerning what kinds of languages there can be re: wh-extraction are still around.
word order parameters
Word order parameters
  • Japanese is head-final (SOVIC)
    • [CP [IPS [VPO V] I ] C ]
  • English is head-initial (CSIVO)
    • [CPC [IPS I[VPV O] ]
  • This is a parameter by which languages differ—but it should be pretty obvious to the L2 learner.
word order parameters clahsen and muysken 1986
Word order parametersClahsen and Muysken (1986)
  • Arguing for a non-UG-based view of L2A: L1A of German and L2A of German are different.
  • (L1) kids get SOV order right away.
  • L2 learners coming from Romance use SVO order (not just V2), but this isn’t even transfer, since L2 learners coming from Turkish also use SVO order (not SOV).
  • To the extent that people learn the SOV German order, it’s due to (unnatural) rules transforming underlying SVO structures to the SOV forms.
word order parameters ug clahsen muysken
Word order parameters (*UG)Clahsen & Muysken
  • Used naturalistic production data.
  • They suggest that L2 learners extract the “canonical” order (SVO) and stick with that (later learning to move non-finite verbs to the end).
  • White: But how do they arrive at the canonical order? How can they tell that the Adv-V-S-O order is non-canonical?
word order parameters ug clahsen muysken1
Word order parameters (*UG?)Clahsen & Muysken
  • L2 learners do seem to have assumed SVO, producing things like Adv-SVO, SV±FinO, … “canonical order”??
  • Most languages are uniform with respect to headedness—but German isn’t. CP is head initial, while VP is head-final (IP could be either).
  • German has mixed headedness (CSIOV)
    • [CPC [IPS I[VPO V] ]
  • Learner of German could easily assume German is head-initial—that is, misanalyze it as SVO.
  • The V-to-T parameter seems to be hard to “re-set”—perhaps it even can’t be re-set.
  • The null subject parameter has given us less than striking results—they don’t move directly together.
  • Possible that except for obvious differences in word order, misanalysis (failure to re-set) occurs.
binding theory once more
Binding Theory: once more
    • Johnsaw himself.
    • *Himselfsaw John.
    • *Johnsaid Mary saw himself.
    • *Johnsaid himselfsaw Mary.
    • *Johnsaw him.
    • Johnsaid Mary saw him.
    • Johnsaid hesaw Mary.
  • Binding Theory.Principle A: Anaphors (like himself) need an “earlier” antecedent within its binding domain. Principle B: Pronouns (like him) cannot have an “earlier” antecedent within its binding domain.
  • Parameter:Binding domain = sentence containing
binding theory parameter the domain for anaphors
Binding Theory parameter: the domain for anaphors
  • Sam believes [that Harry overestimates himself]
  • Sam-wa [Harry-ga zibun-o tunet-ta to] it-ta]Sam-top Harry-nom self-acc pinch-past-that say-past‘Sam said that Harry pinched (him)self.’
more advances in bt
More advances in BT
  • This parameter of binding domain has been studied rather extensively in both theoretical linguistics and second language acquisition.
  • Eventually, it was noticed that anaphors which seem to be able to get their referent “long-distance” tend also to be monomorphemic—this is particularly clear for languages that have both kinds of anaphors, like Dutch zich (LD) and zichzelf(local), Norwegian seg (LD) and seg selv(local), etc.
more advances in bt1
More advances in BT
  • One thing this tells us is that local vs. long-distance is not a parameter differentiating languages—it’s some kind of parameter differentiating anaphors, even in the same language. Some languages only have one kind (e.g., English, which has only complex pronoun+selfanaphors), but some languages have both.
more advances in bt2
More advances in BT
  • One fact about LD anaphors which seems to be pretty robust is that LD anaphors are subject-oriented—they can get their reference from a long-distance subject, but not from anything else outside of their clause.
more advances in bt3
More advances in BT
  • English himself (type 1)
    • Frediasked Johnj about himselfi,j.
  • Russian sebja ‘self’ (type 2)
    • Ivani sprosil Borisaj o sebjei,*j.
    • ‘Ivani asked Borisj about selfi,*j.’
  • Japanese zibun ‘self’ (type 3)
    • Johni wa Maryjni zibuni,*jno ayasin o mise-ta.
    • ‘Johni showed Maryjpictures of selfi,*j.’
more advances in bt4
More advances in BT
  • So there are two things about LD anaphors that differentiate them from local anaphors pretty reliably:
    • LD anaphors are monomorphemic and subject-oriented
    • Local anaphors are neither.
more advances in bt5
More advances in BT
  • The last differentiation has to do with the “distance” a LD anaphor can go to find its referent. It turns out that some languages with LD anaphors differentiate finite and nonfinite (=with an infinitive) clauses, and LD anaphors cannot look outside a finite clause, only outside a nonfinite clause. Examples follow.
ld ld finite ld finite
-LD, +LD-finite, +LD±finite
  • English himself (type 1)
    • Fredibelieves Johnj to have hurt himself*i,j.
    • Fredi believes that Johnjhurt himself*i,j.
  • Russian sebja ‘self’ (type 2)
    • SaSai poprosila Marinuj narisovat’ sebjai,j.‘Sashai asked Marinaj to draw selfi,j.’
    • SaSai prosit, Ctoby Marinajnarisovala sebja*i,j.‘Sashai requests that Marinaj draw self*i,j.’
  • Japanese zibun ‘self’ (type 3)
    • Alicei wa Suejga zibuni,jo aisite iru to omotte iru‘Alicei thinks that Suejloves selfi,j.’
more advances in bt6
More advances in BT
  • It turns out that this difference (sensitivity to finiteness) is a language-by-language difference—a language with a LD anaphor only has one kind of LD anaphor. This is a parameter which differentiate languages.
    • Incidentally, there is a theoretical explanation for why LD parameters are both monomorphemic and subject-oriented (roughly, they connect not to a prior noun phrase, but to a verb which agrees with its subject).
l2 research on bt
L2 research on BT
  • There has been quite a bit of research into L2’ers’ knowledge of BT, and it also provides an area with “clustered” properties.
  • As expected, L2’ers weren’t always perfect; learning English,
    • many achieved (correct) type 1 (local) binding,
    • many others (generally an effect of transfer) spoke English as if it were a type 3 (LD±fin) language.
    • some seemed to show an effect of ±finite on whether an anaphor could be long distance—sounds a bit like type 2 (LD-fin).
maclaughlin 1998
MacLaughlin 1998
  • In an experiment to try to test this question explicitly, MacLaughlin looked at speakers of type 3 languages (5 native speakers of Chinese, 10 native speakers of Japanese) learning English (type 1) in various settings. What she was specifically looking to do is to classify each learner as “type 1,” “type 2,” or “type 3” to see in particular if there are any that show up as type 2.
maclaughlin 19981
MacLaughlin 1998
  • The significance of seeing a L2’er with a type 2 system is that it is neither a property of the L1 (hence it couldn’t have arisen due to transfer from the L1) nor a property of the L2(hence it couldn’t have arisen simply due to positive evidence from the L2). Rather, it is an option made available by UG but taken by neither the L1 nor L2. This is a strong type of evidence for the availability of UG in the L2A process, since it shows that the parameter options are still accessible.
maclaughlin 19982
MacLaughlin 1998
  • The test itself was of the form:
  • Tom thinks that John hates himself:
    • Himself can be John Agree___ Disagree___
    • Himself can be Tom Agree___ Disagree___
  • Several types of sentences were tested, including sentences with embedded finite clauses and embedded infinitival clauses with both subjects and non-subjects as potential antecedents.
maclaughlin 19983
MacLaughlin 1998
  • Learners’ responses were categorized and learners were assigned to “types” according to whether they met either 80% or 100% expectations.
maclaughlin 19984
MacLaughlin 1998
  • There are two parameters relevant to the type that a learner is assigned to… We can see that type 2 is a not surprising place for some learners to arrive at on the way to the target type 1.
  • So, we’ve finally got something that appears to be on the “UG side”—
  • The parameter of the anaphor and the parameter (AGR) concerning the opacity of finite tense seem to be able to be “re-set” and moreover we see the predicted intermediate point when only one but not the other has been set to the target setting.
white s 2003 critique
White’s (2003) critique
  • The Type 2 learners are the surprising ones. They supposedly consider their anaphors to be monomorphemic, but have set the AGR parameter.
  • The thing is: we don’t have any independent evidence that the “Type 2’ers” take the anaphors to be monomorphemic.
  • White notes that monomorphemic anaphors in L1s don’t show person/number agreement. Do the “Type 2’ers” use himself, themselves, herself correctly? We would expect not, if these are really Type 2 learners. A separate study seems to indicate that J->E learners are quite accurate. A full study remains to be done.
ecp that trace effects
ECP: that-trace effects
  • The setting of the head parameter should be obvious in the primary data. Does the head come before or after the complement?
  • The setting of the Null Subject parameter should also be obvious. Are there pleonastic pronouns in it’s raining?
  • ECP (that-trace) and Subjacency (bounding nodes) are parameters which require much more subtle evidence in order to be correctly set.
ecp that trace effects1
ECP: that-trace effects
  • We know that the positive evidence won’t lead a learner to the generalization that that is disallowed when a subject is extracted from an embedded sentence.
    • John arrived yesterday.
    • Mary said John arrived yesterday.
    • Mary said that John arrived yesterday.
    • Who arrived yesterday?
    • Who did Mary say t arrived yesterday?
    • *Who did Mary say that t arrived yesterday?
ecp that trace effects2
ECP: that-trace effects
  • that-trace is ok in Dutch.
    • Wie denk je dat hem gisteren gezien heeft?who think you that him yesterday see has‘Who do you think t saw him yesterday?’
  • The parameter is supposed to be a property of C; in Dutch C (dat) is a proper governor, and so a trace in subject position in properly governed. In English, C (that) is not a proper governor, hence the that-trace effect.
  • If UG is available, Dutch->English learners should be able to set the parameter properly on C eventually. If not, we’d expect that to be forever treated like dat.
ecp that trace effects3
Dutch->English learners given a preference task (how is the sentence with that compared to the sentence without that?). (White 1990). Some effect.

They seem to get the differential behavior between subjects and objects, not expected based on Dutch—except was this checked??

ECP: that-trace effects
subjacency and bounding nodes
Subjacency and bounding nodes
  • A much more subtle parameter is the setting of bounding nodes for Subjacency.
  • Subjacency: A single movement cannot cross two bounding nodes.
  • English: Bounding nodes are DP and IP.
  • French/Italian: Bounding nodes are DP and CP.
subjacency and bounding nodes1
Subjacency and bounding nodes
  • *Whati[IP did Mary believe[DPthe story [CPti that [IP John saw ti ]]]]?
  • *Whati[IP did Mary wonder [CP whether[IP John would do ti ]]]?
bounding nodes
French->English: Do they learn that IP is a bounding node?

White (1988): Grammaticality judgments from intermediate adult learners. Suggests that at least one group hasn’t quite gotten IP yet—but will?

Bounding nodes
  • So, parameters seem like one of the best places to look for evidence that UG still plays a role in L2A.
  • Languages differ in the value of parameters.
  • During L1A, one setting is picked.
  • If only L1 can be consulted while learning L2, then we might expect only that setting to be available. (Transferred—and perhaps even kept, with additional mechanisms to derive deviations).
  • If a L2 learner can reset a parameter (from either a transferred setting or a default one), then this means that the options are still there.

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