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Negation in L2 acquisition: implications for language genesis Henriëtte de Swart Utrecht/NIAS.

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Presentation on theme: "Negation in L2 acquisition: implications for language genesis Henriëtte de Swart Utrecht/NIAS."— Presentation transcript:

1 Negation in L2 acquisition: implications for language genesis Henriëtte de Swart Utrecht/NIAS

2 The “windows” approach 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.

3 Pre-logical and truth-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.

4 Negation: recursion 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).

5 Optimality Theory (OT) 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).

6 OT constraints Faithfulness constraints: input-output correspondence: FAITH Markedness constraints: output oriented only: *STRUCTURE Constraints may conflict: ranking determines optimal outcome.

7 OT and language acquisition Developmental approach: shifting rankings, towards target grammar. Gradual: constraints shift one at a time. Start: *STRUCTURE >> FAITH (no production, no interpretation).

8 L2 acquisition: corpus 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?

9 L2 acquisition: stages Pre-basic variety: nominal structure, topic- focus articulation. Basic variety: predicate-argument structure, lexical categories, noun-verb distinction. Post-basic variety: towards target language.

10 Negation in pre-basic variety 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).

11 Topic-comment structure 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.

12 Focus sensitive negation 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.

13 Negation in basic variety (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.

14 OT constraints negation 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!

15 Negative sentences (form) Meaning   FormFNeg*Neg It is raining *  It is not raining *

16 Negative sentences (meaning) Form It is not raining MeaningFNeg*Neg  *   *

17 Utterance structure in pre- basic variety Utterance structure: topic-focus articulation. OT constraint: FocusLast FocusLast: new information comes last in the sentence.

18 Negation in pre-basic variety Negation of a topic: X + NEG Meaning X top not foc formFNeg*NegFocLa X *  X NEG * NEG X * *

19 Negation in pre-basic variety Focus sensitive negation: NEG + X Meaning not X foc formFNeg*NegFocLa X * X NEG * *  NEG X *

20 Negation in basic variety (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.

21 Negation as operator 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.

22 Utterance structure in basic variety NegFirst (focus version): Negation precedes its focus. NegFirst: special instance of mirror principle.

23 Negation as operator Meaning  x top [V y] foc formFNeg*NegNegFrst f NP V NP * neg NP V NP * *  NP neg V NP * NP V NP neg * *

24 Post-basic variety Typological preference for preverbal position of negation (Horn 1989). NegFirst (grammaticized version): Negation precedes the (finite) verb.

25 Developmental path Stage 0*Structure >> Faithno L2 Stage 1FNeg >> *Negholophrastic negation Stage 2FNeg >> *Neg, FocusLast pre-basic variety Stage 3FNeg >> *Neg, NegFirst foc basic variety Stage 4FNeg >> *Neg, NegFirst gram post-basic variety (some tl)

26 Language 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).

27 Motivation for language Motivation for language: communication, negotiation of power, distribution of labor, resources in social setting, teaching of children. Transition from conceptual stage to holophrastic stage.

28 Holophrastic stage 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.

29 Protolanguage 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.

30 Utterance structure in Protolanguage No lexical categories. Utterances structured by topic-focus articulation. FNeg >> *Neg, FocusLast.

31 Semantic recursion 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 (NegFirst foc ).

32 Towards syntactic negation Emergence of syntactic principles: no direct connection between focus and word order. NegFirst focus  NegFirst gram. Preverbal position of negation: ‘natural’ syntax. Syntactic recursion follows semantic recursion.

33 Genesis of negation Stage 0*Structure >> FaithConceptual stage Stage 1FaithNeg >> *NegHolophrastic stage Stage 2FaithNeg >> *Neg, FocusLast protolanguage Stage 3FaithNeg >> *Neg, Mirror Pr, NegFirst foc Language: semantic recursion Stage 4FaithNeg >> *Neg NegFirst gram Syntactic recursion

34 Conclusions 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.

35 Want to read more? Negation in early L2: a “window” on language genesis. AI Preprint serie, Utrecht University.

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