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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 genesis

  • 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 genesistruth-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 genesis

  • 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) genesis

  • 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 genesis

  • 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 genesis

  • 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 genesis

  • 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 genesis

  • 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 genesis

  • 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 genesis

  • 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 genesis

  • 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 genesis

  • (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 genesis

  • 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 genesis

  • 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 genesis

  • Negation of a topic: X + NEG

Negation in pre basic variety2
Negation in pre-basic variety genesis

  • Focus sensitive negation: NEG + X

Negation in basic variety1
Negation in basic variety genesis

  • (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 genesis

  • 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 genesis

  • NegFirst (focus version): Negation precedes its focus.

  • NegFirst: special instance of mirror principle.

Post basic variety
Post-basic variety genesis

  • Typological preference for preverbal position of negation (Horn 1989).

  • NegFirst (grammaticized version): Negation precedes the (finite) verb.

Language genesis
Language Genesis 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 genesis

  • 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 genesis

  • 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.

Protolanguage genesis

  • 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 genesis

  • No lexical categories.

  • Utterances structured by topic-focus articulation.

  • FNeg >> *Neg, FocusLast.

Semantic recursion
Semantic recursion genesis

  • 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 genesis

  • 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.

Conclusions genesis

  • 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? genesis

  • Negation in early L2: a “window” on language genesis. AI Preprint serie, Utrecht University.