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Published byRobyn Scarff Modified over 2 years ago

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Subset principle

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Assumes construction of more conservative grammar (Y), learner only moves to larger grammar (X) on basis of positive evidence XX Y X

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Dative alternation: Most languages allow structures such as: – John gave the necklace to Mary. – John explained the problem to Paul. – John donated the book to the library. Some also allow for alternation (but not of all verbs): – John gave Mary the necklace. – *John explained Paul the problem. – *John donated the library the book.

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When learning a language, L1 learners will assume the more constrained version, the subset, until they receive enough evidence to confirm that the superset is possible, and the rules of the superset.

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Question for L2: Do learners still have knowledge of the subset principle, or do they transfer supersets from their L2, needing negative evidence when the L1 is a subset of the L2?

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