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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: Transfer and Learnability in Second Language Argument Structure: Motion verbs with locational/directional PPs in L2 English and Japanese Add Dissertation
Author: Shunji Inagaki Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: McGill University, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 2002
Linguistic Subfield(s): Language Acquisition;
Subject Language(s): English
Director(s): Lydia White
Lisa Travis

Abstract: This thesis investigates how the outcomes of second language (L2) argument structure will vary depending on the nature of the learner's first language (L1). The focus is on motion verbs appearing with a prepositional/postpositional phrase that expresses the final endpoint of the motion (goal PP). In English, manner-of-motion verbs (e.g., walk) and directed motion verbs (e.g., go) can appear with a goal PP as in John walked (went) to school. In contrast, Japanese allows only directed motion verbs to occur with a goal PP. Thus, Japanese motion verbs with goal PPs form a subset of their English counterparts. I propose an analysis of these crosslinguistic differences in terms of different incorporation patterns in lexical-syntax (Hale & Keyser, 1993). L1 transfer and learnability considerations (White, 1991b), then, lead me to hypothesize that Japanese-speaking learners of English will be able to acquire the L2 representation on the basis of positive evidence, but that English-speaking learners of Japanese will have difficulty acquiring the L2 representation due to the lack of positive data motivating the restructuring of the L1 representation to the L2. A series of experiments tested these hypotheses using grammaticality judgment and picture-matching tasks. Results in general supported this prediction, suggesting that whether the L1 constitutes a subset of the L2 or vice versa indeed affects the outcomes of L2 argument structure. The results indicate full involvement of L1 and UG in L2 acquisition, thus supporting the Full-Transfer/Full-Access model of L2 acquisition (Schwartz & Sprouse, 1994).