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LINGUIST List 22.2368

Mon Jun 06 2011

Diss: Lang Acq: Romano: 'Adult Second Language Development of INFL ...'

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        1.     Francesco Romano , Adult Second Language Development of INFL Related Properties: Contributions from UG, the L1 and input

Message 1: Adult Second Language Development of INFL Related Properties: Contributions from UG, the L1 and input
Date: 04-Jun-2011
From: Francesco Romano <f.romanolancaster.ac.uk>
Subject: Adult Second Language Development of INFL Related Properties: Contributions from UG, the L1 and input
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Institution: University of Essex
Program: MPhil/PhD in Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2011

Author: Francesco Romano

Dissertation Title: Adult Second Language Development of INFL Related Properties: Contributions from UG, the L1 and input

Linguistic Field(s): Language Acquisition

Subject Language(s): Italian (ita)

Dissertation Director:
Roger Hawkins

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis tests a number of claims in the literature on second language
acquisition about the source and development of grammatical knowledge in
learners of second languages (L2s). One claim is that innate linguistic
knowledge (Universal Grammar (UG)) interacts with the input to explain L2
development, and that a speaker's first language (L1) has little influence
(Vainikka & Young-Scholten, 2007). Another claim (Pienemann, 2007) differs
fundamentally from the first in respect of the architecture of innate
linguistic knowledge (Lexical Functional Grammar). A third claim is that
the starting point for L2 acquisition is the entire L1 grammar, and
development results from restructuring that grammar on the basis of input,
under UG constraints (Schwartz & Sprouse, 2008). A final claim is that
development is largely determined by properties of input, with no role for
innate knowledge (Goldschneider & DeKeyser, 2001). A bidirectional study of
the acquisition of properties associated with the Infl(ection) category in
L2 English (by L1 speakers of French and Spanish) and L2 Italian (by L1
speakers of English and Spanish) was conducted using a battery of tests
that were methodologically equivalent for both L2s. The acquisition of
inflectional morphology, of overt/null subjects in finite clauses and of
copula and main-verb raising/non-raising were examined. Results show L1
influence on the acquisition of preverbal finite subjects in the L2 Italian
initial and L2 English intermediate state. Although participants also show
pervasive optionality in the use of inflectional morphology, as found in
previous studies, there was no evidence that this was task-related (pace
claims that optionality is an interface mapping problem (Prévost & White,
2000)). None of the four claims was able to successfully predict all the
empirical findings but generally speaking most of the results were
compatible with Vainikka and Young-Scholten (2007) and a view that UG is
implicated in L2 acquisition (contra Goldschneider & DeKeyser, 2001). A
dissociation between the acquisition of null subjects and main verb-raising
in L2 Italian was found and argued to be consistent with recent proposals
of the abstract representation of null subjects by Biberauer and Roberts
(2010). Cognate auxiliaries were acquired in different orders in English
and Italian, and input factors alone were not sufficient to explain the
patterns found. The study concludes that the L2 development of Infl is
driven by gradual modification of the feature composition of L2 lexical
items, constrained by the L1 and UG.




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