Typology and Second Language Acquisition

Typology and Second Language Acquisition

Typology and Second Language Acquisition

Typology and Second Language Acquisition

Synopsis

In recent years research on comparative typology has led to reveal regularities and to formulate new constraints upon variation for a broad range of phenomena. As the amount of typological research increased, a growing interest arose for the implications that findings in the typological field might have on second language acquisition. Written by experts in the field of typology and/or second language acquisition, this volume addresses theoretical and empirical issues on structural domains such as relative clauses and possessive constructions as well as pragmatic considerations on information organization in learners productions.

Excerpt

Anna Giacalone Ramat

This book brings together two apparently distant sub-fields of linguistics under the assumption that their interaction can enrich our understanding of both.

Typological comparison and Universal research (“different facets of a single research endeavour”, Comrie 1989: 33) aim to establish limits within human language. Taking this aspect into consideration, we may state that a basic connotation of typology is cross-linguistic comparison: implicational universals which are crucial in order to create a typology of the languages of the world cannot be discovered or verified by observing only a single language (Croft 1990: 1).

Second language acquisition (SLA) research aims to describe organisational principles of learner varieties (or “interlanguages”), that is those dynamic systems that learners of a second language build during the acquisition process. Another aim is to account for greater or lesser difficulties encountered in acquiring second language constructions. the comparison of first language (L1) and second language (L2) structures has traditionally been considered to be a measure of learning difficulty. the need for comparison has been recognised since the times of the Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis (Lado 1954), which operated within a structuralist theory of language which is today inadequate.

Clearly both objectives of sla need theoretical grounding from general linguistics (Huebner and Ferguson 1991) which can be provided both by the formal generative and the functional-typological framework. a number of recent studies have applied the Principles and Parameters model to sla and have made specific predictions on how language acquisition should proceed. We will not discuss extensively here the Universal Grammar approach to sla nor the . . .

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