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Week 14b. Wrapping up CAS LX 400 Second Language Acquisition.

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1 Week 14b. Wrapping up CAS LX 400 Second Language Acquisition

2 Some things we know about native languages Language involves vast amounts of complex knowledge, generally untaught, but shared between native speakers of the same language/dialect, an apparently also mostly shared across languages. Universal Principles. Languages differ in certain details, but at one level, range of variation appears to be highly limited. Parameters. Languages have a “shape”. “Languages” also have certain cultural aspects, (seemingly) non-universal, taught.

3 Some things we know about native languages The differences between knowing one language and another are primarily knowing… –Different vocabulary Different roots Different morphology and rules of morphological combination –Different parameter settings (perhaps in the lexicon of the language) Does the language allow null subjects? Does the verb move to T? Does the language allow complex onsets in its syllables? –Different cultural conventions Standard way to refuse, an invitation, apologize, … Idiomatic meanings for words and word groups Cultural literacy for metaphors and allusions Prescriptive rules

4 What’s the goal of second language acquisition? Certainly, no single goal. –To become fluent, near-native (to approximate a native speaker as closely as possible). –To become competent, able to communicate in the target language. –To satisfy the language requirement in order to graduate and get a high-paying job in your uncle’s Wall Street firm. –To impress potential spouses. –…

5 What’s the best we can hope for? Focusing on people whose goal is near- nativeness, what should their target be? –Same knowledge in TL as a monolingual speaker of that language has? –Same knowledge of TL and L1 as a simultaneous bilingual of the two languages has? –Are these different? If not, it doesn’t matter. If so, we’d guess the latter.

6 Humans are language machines Kids seem to be built to learn language. –They learn a system which is more complex than the data they receive. –They learn it quickly. –They appear to expend very little conscious effort in this pursuit. –They reach a very consistent end-state compared to that of other learners. –They progress through similar stages within and across languages.

7 Humans are language machines Pidgin/creole results also suggest some kind of “bioprogram” aiding kids in language learning. Creoles are the result of innovation from impoverished input –probably like regular L1 acquisition anyway Innovations across creoles are very similar –Articles: 3-way distinction (spec.def., spec.indef., nonspec.). Tense ±Anterior (stative, action distinction), Modality ±Irrealis (future, conditionals), Aspect ±Nonpunctual (progressive, iterative, durative). Two C’s (realized vs. hypothetical).

8 Adult L2A Measured against either monolingual native speakers or simultaneous bilinguals, adults learning a second language seem to share very few of these properties—it seems like adults are not built to learn languages. –Appears to be arduous –Incomplete success –Fossilization –…

9 Modeling the human capacity for language UG provides the parameters and contains the grammatical system that makes use of them. LAD sets the parameters based on the PLD. Responsible for getting language to kids. LAD PLD UG Subjacency NPAH

10 L2A Perhaps the LAD operates in L1A but not in adult L2A, that the language input needs to find its way into the interlanguage some other way. LAD intake UG Subjacency NPAH

11 Critical period Lenneberg (1967). Critical periods are rampant in the natural world. –CP for developing binocular vision in macaque monkeys, cats. –CP for imprinting in birds –Delay in cataract surgery can fail to yield sight. And in language-related domains too… –Genie, kept from language input until 13;7 –Young kids can recover from CNS damage in ways adults seem not able to.

12 Critical period If exists, best candidate for cause is brain development. –Lateralization? Maybe, but probably finished too early. –Myelinization (limits plasticity)? Maybe, but probably finished too late. But maybe. In the model of acquisition, what goes away? –LAD? –Plasticity in possible language knowledge (locked in place)?

13 Critical period Johnson and Newport. Found negative correlation between age of initial exposure to language and eventual performance. Tested subjects’ judgments concerning violations of Subjacency (limits possible wh-questions, putative universal principle). Rapid drop-off of performance after initial age around 14. White and Genesee, Birdsong cite small number of late learners who do seem to reach a level where they are indistinguishable from native speakers. So, it seems like there is at least a sensitive period, but certain people (who work hard, care a lot?) can overcome the obstacle.

14 Natural order Roughly at least, L2’ers seem to acquire the L2 along the same trajectory as one another. –Case and word order before is and are, later would, later have and -en. There seems to be some kind of “natural order” of acquisition. How might we understand this in terms of that UG picture from before? Any ideas?

15 UG access and transfer To what extent do second language learners know what “languages are like”? (Do they still know what all the possibilities are?) To what extent do second language learners assume that the language they’re learning is like the language they already know?

16 Markedness and what languages are like Typological universals reduce the number of possible languages. Marked implies unmarked –having a dual implies having a plural –having purple implies having green –having wh-inversion implies having wh-fronting –having yes-no inversion implies having wh-inversion –being able to form relatives on OPREP implies being able to form relatives on IO

17 Markedness and what languages are like Eckman, Moravcsik, Wirth (1989). –J/K/T  E. All wh-fronted; some had wh-inversion (wh- inv  wh-fronting). Some yn-inv, ~all had wh-inv. Some other (wh-inv). (yn-inv  wh-inv). IL seems to obey typological universals—it’s a language in the relevant sense. Markedness Differential Hypothesis (Eckman): Difficulty in learning area of L2 from L1 if they differ and L2 version is more marked. Some evidence that teaching marked structures is hard, but gives you unmarked structures for free.

18 Markedness and what languages are like Verb classes (Vendler): Achievement, accomplishment, activity, state. Perfective appears on verb class scale in opposite order as imperfective (Spanish as L2). Past perfective: achievement < accomplishment < activity < state Past imperfective: state < activity < accomplishment < achievement

19 Markedness and what languages are like Sonority hierarchy –a > i > r > l > n > s > t Syllables as sonority waves; languages differ on steepness requirements between margin and nucleus. Most evidence that we have so far points to a big role for transfer in phonological parameters and not a lot of parameter resetting. Yet, the evidence in the phonology might be more readily available.

20 Bilingual properties Fluent bilinguals conversing tend to code- switch or code-mix. Where languages can be switched inside a sentence seems to be constrained. –Equivalence constraint: where languages “map onto” one another. –Free morpheme constraint: Allowed where cutting there doesn’t leave any bound morphemes.

21 Code-mixing When does code-switching/mixing happen? Various functions –Quotations of a speaker of the mixed-to language –Habitual interjections –Reiteration/clarification –Topic/comment differentiation –Social distance/authority –Making distinctions not available in NL

22 Code-mixing MacSwan 1999: Two pools of lexical items, combined by the syntactic computational system. Code mixing = picking some of the words of each sentence from each lexicon. Only requirement is that they fit together—if one language requires agreement between items, agreement must be there. Spanish negative no a clitic attaching to following verb, so cant code mix from Spanish to anything else after no. *El no wants to go. You can’t double agreement: *He doesn’t quiere ir. Greek (3 genders) hard to mix with Spanish and Catalan (2 genders) whenever agreement causes conflict.

23 UG access and transfer Meisel (1997): L2A and L1A have different sequences (negation). Flynn (1996): J  E learners can… –Set head parameter (Abundant evidence). –Obey Subjacency (Universal constraint). Vs. Johnson & Newport (1991): adult C  E learners can’t?? Kanno (1996): E  J learners can… –Obey ECP (new context, but universal constraint).

24 UG access and transfer White (1991). Child L2’ers can be taught that English disallows *SVAO but they forget within a year. Doesn’t correlate with SAVO. Trahey (1996) (flooding) same failure to cluster. Hawkins et al. (1993). E  F: 1) Neg+V a unit, 2) SVAO via HNP shift. Faking French.

25 UG access and transfer White (1985, 1986): S  E vs. F  E. Allowability of VS about the same, S  E accepted more missing subjects. MacLaughlin (1998): Two parameters of anaphor binding. Moving from [+,–] to [–,+] shows evidence of [+,+] for some learners (others perhaps went through [–,–]). –Option made available by UG (parameter setting in neither NL nor TL attested in the IL).

26 UG access and transfer Prévost & White (1999, 2000): L2 E, L2 G; found no nonfinite verbs pronounced as finite, but plenty of finite verbs pronounced as nonfinite.

27 Conclusions? LAD probably atrophied (critical period): Meisel 1997. Universal constraints (also active in L1) constrain IL— would be true even if we were just talking about “speaking L1 with L2 words” (Flynn 1996, Kanno 1996) L2 learners (even kids) don’t seem to set the verb movement or null subject parameters for the target language (predicted clustering not observed) (White, Trahey, Hawkins et al.). Parameters of binding theory if correctly analyzed do seem to be being reset. The one piece of positive evidence we’ve got.

28 VYS and development Vainikka & Young-Scholten: L2’ers build up their syntactic trees from the bottom; start with a non-complex VP only, transfer head parameter (comparing K/T L1 with I/S L1). Then, TP, AgrP, CP, until full tree. –VP stage, very few T elements, no C elements (no embedded clauses, fronted non-subject wh-phrases). Predominantly neg-V and adv-V orders. –TP stage, modals, auxes, optional verb movement. –AgrP stage, like TP stage but with agreement paradigm acquired. –CP embedded clauses, proper wh-movement. Paradis et al. (1998): AgrP seems to come before TP in child L2A E  F.

29 ESF project Perdue & Klein (1992): Three basic learner varieties (based on production). –Nominal Utterance Organization Unconnected nouns—missing structuring power of verb –Infinite Utterance Organization Verbs prevalent. No distinction between finite and nonfinite verbs. Limited number of patterns. Pragmatic mode? (Controller first, new information last) –Finite Utterance Organization Distinguishes finite & nonfinite Vs. avoidance? Productions vs. lab and POS.

30 Effects of language in use In discourse, information flows. Some information is new, some is known, and this is often linguistically encoded (e.g. pronouns only for old information). Do L2’ers use language in the context correctly? (Like a target speaker)

31 Effects of language in use Languages seem to be able to be split into “topic prominent” and “subject prominent” languages (perhaps simply a parameter), based on whether the subject or the topic has the most prominence in the structure of a sentence. Givón and “pragmatic mode” (topic-comment) vs. later “syntactic mode” (target like). Universal topic prominent stage? (Fuller & Gundel 1987, Givón) –Initial experiments weren’t very good; Jin 1994 shows that transfer seems to play the biggest role—L2 Chinese isn’t easy. Syntax and pragmatics orthogonal?

32 Ge (Huebner 1983) Ge used is(a) to mark the boundary between topic and comment. Later is(a) disappeared and then reappeared just in the contexts in which English would have be. Ge’s use of da was sensitive to topichood (and other things) for a while until Ge landed on English-like usage. Grammatical form preceded correct usage in context.

33 Interlanguage pragmatics Cultures differ on when and how speech acts (apology, refusal, etc.) are performed. Usually learned late, after other grammatical competence is fairly well-developed. Important for interpersonal relationships— avoiding the appearance of rudeness or obsequiousness. Transfer of cultural speech act norms seems to depend on the perception of distance between the NL and TL (noticing the difference).

34 How is L2 acquisition done? McLaughlin: suppose mind ≈ Apple ][ (1MHz computer with 48K RAM). Conscious tasks require attention, attention takes resources. Practice makes automatic, attention- free. When under conscious control, processes are flexible, can be applied to novel situations. Once automatic, hard to suppress or alter. Fossilization. –McL: automaticization causing “restructuring” in a pretty nonspecific way, threatens fossilization story. A crucial problem—currently hopelessly vague.

35 Input vs. intake Learner needs comprehensible input (something that can be analyzed in terms of knowledge already acquired) to advance. –Bardovi-Harlig (1995) and aspect: students with prerequisites to pluperfect in reverse order reports (simple past, reverse order reports) benefited from instruction. Others didn’t. Intake is input used in grammar building.

36 Input vs. intake For input to become intake, attention to form is required (VanPatten), attention to form competes with attention to content. Given a choice, content wins, so most meaningless morphology is least likely to be noticed—slow to learn. –Finding semantic roles: MacWhinney & Bates’ competition model (cues: word order, case marking, agreement… probably used in L1 ambiguity resolution, also in L2?). Learning strategies—attention under conscious control? (but O’Malley and Chamot 1990 explored, looking for successful learning strategies and teaching them as a skill prior to instruction—found only marginal effect)

37 Input to intake Apperception (noticing the gap) –Blocked by “filters” (time pressure, mid-range frequency, motivation, …) Comprehensibility (meaning or structure discernible) –Foreigner talk (“simplified” sort of)

38 Input to intake Attention (focusing on aspect of language to be learned) –Negotiation for meaning (helps focus on non-native- like aspects of learner language) Output (forces a structural hypothesis) –Even with no real analysis you can often comprehend the gist of the conversation. –To say something, you need a syntax, forced choice. –Interactors (and to some extent observers) had advantage over non-interactors (Mackey 1999)

39 Input to intake Doughty (1991): ESL, Meaning vs. form instruction vs. control, testing RC formation. Experimental groups: strong positive effect on ability to relativize; meaning group better on comprehension. –Dissociated meaning from structure—ROG got the structure and not the meaning.

40 Input to intake For intake to work (in any kind of automatic way), the data must be available. But the L1 can potentially filter out useful information. Infants start with but lose the ability to distinguish non-native contrasts. French “irregulars” cédez vs. cède. Phonological features, distinctions, l/r in Mandarin vs. Japanese; geminates in E  J.

41 Language attrition L1 attrition—altering L1 parameter settings? Null subjects: Italian speakers immersed in English will sometime produce/accept overt subjects where monolinguals would not. Broadening the contexts in which they can use overt pronouns (not forgetting how to use null subjects).

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