103: 211: Generative Second Language Acquisition (offered every Fall semester)
This course provides an overview and analysis of current second language acquisition research conducted within the generative framework. We focus on explaining the linguistic competence of second language learners in terms of the principles and parameters of Universal Grammar, the innate language acquisition device. We present and critically discuss theories of UG access and mother tongue influence. Relevant research is presented for and against the hypothesis that UG is implicated in second language acquisition. Particular consideration is given to the nature of the interlanguage grammar at different points in development, from the initial state to ultimate attainment. This is an essential course for students interested in second language acquisition from a linguistic perspective. Grading is based on reading summaries, assignments, and a project.
Student projects from this course have frequently progressed further, have been presented at conferences like SLRF, GASLA, GALA and BUCLD, and appear in proceedings. Examples include:
R. Slabakova and J. Gajdos, (2007) “Where does morphological variability come from?” Second Language Research Forum, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.
R. Slabakova and J. Gajdos (2007) “The Combinatorial Variability Hypothesis in the Second Language”, Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition, Barcelona.
Judy, T. 2009. Parametric directionality and L2 convergence. 19th Conference of the European Second Language Association (EuroSLA 19). University College, Cork, Ireland, 5 September.
Renaud, J. 2009. Constraint reranking in L2 phonology: a pilot study of coda nasals in the L2 English of L1 Spanish speakers. 19th Conference of the European Second Language Association (EuroSLA 19). University College, Cork, Ireland, 5 September. (presented by Tiffany Judy in absentia).
103: 157 Linguistic Theory and Second Language Acquisition
This course presents an accessible introduction of research results obtained by the generative second language acquisition framework and their implications for classroom teaching methods. Current views of language architecture are discussed with a focus on inflectional morphology and linguistic interfaces, which have been proposed to be severe bottlenecks for acquisition. Research findings on acquisition of syntax, phonology, semantics, and linguistic pragmatics are covered. Pedagogical implications of these research findings are examined.
103:205 Topics in Linguistic Theory
Subtitle: Acquisition of the Interface Between Syntax and Discourse/Pragmatics
This course will start with current views of the language architecture to clarify the importance of the linguistic interfaces. Sorace’s Interface Hypothesis postulates that even near-native speakers of an L2 may experience residual optionality with respect to linguistic properties at the interfaces. However, a distinction is made between internal and external interfaces, the latter expected to present even more difficulty. The syntax-discourse/pragmatics interface is classified as an external one because it relates a linguistic module with the extralinguistic context. We will explore the L2A of properties at this interface in depth: syntactic and pragmatic constraints on null subjects, word order and clitic-doubling as topic and focus marking, scrambling, and scalar implicatures. We will create a list of properties and language pairs for future explorations of the syntax-pragmatics interface.
Linguistic Pragmatics and its Acquisition (seminar)
The topic of this course is Acquisition of Linguistic Pragmatics. The field of pragmatics deals with the study of how speakers convey and understand meaning that lies below the surface of the literal interpretation of the language that is expressed. Perhaps the most striking demonstration of the subtle and complex nature of human communication is the fact that speakers often intend to convey far more interpretations far beyond what they actually hear. In all kinds of conversation, what is actually meant may deviate in various ways from what is literally said. Linguistic pragmatics studies to what extent linguistic properties, knowledge of the world, and contextual factors each contribute to interpretation of utterances. This course will present an in-depth overview of classical and current theoretical accounts of pragmatic competence and its acquisition, with an emphasis on L2 acquisition. Some areas of linguistic pragmatics that will be covered include implicatures (conversational, bridging, and scalar), metaphor, irony, indirect speech acts, and anaphor resolution. Child language and psycholinguistic studies will be presented briefly as a baseline for comparison with L2 studies. We will compile a list of concrete pragmatic features, properties and situations to be used in experimental studies, and an array of process-oriented and product-oriented tasks for studying L2 pragmatic competence.
Research Methods in Language Acquisition
Linguistic Theory and Language Acquisition