|Title:||Representation and Phonological Licensing in the L2 Acquisition of Prosodic Structure||Add Dissertation|
|Author:||Jeffrey Steele||Update Dissertation|
|Email:||click here to access email|
|Institution:||McGill University, Department of Linguistics|
|Linguistic Subfield(s):||Phonology; Language Acquisition;|
|Abstract:||It is widely recognized that differences in both prosodic complexity and position-sensitive contrasts exist both within and across languages. In contemporary phonological theory, these differences are often attributed to differences between heads and non-heads and the asymmetries in licensing potential that exist between such positions.
In this thesis, the consequences of such differences for the second language (L2) acquisition of prosodic complexity and position-sensitive contrasts are explored. It is argued that an explanatorily adequate account of L2 syllabification must include highly-structured representations as well as a theory of licensing, which distinguishes between the licensing of a given position and the licensing of featural content in such a position. Using data drawn primarily from a number of studies that investigate the acquisition of French by native speakers of English and Mandarin, it is demonstrated that the widely-attested interlanguage (IL) syllable-structure-modification processes of deletion, epenthesis, and feature change have a common source. Specifically, all three processes result from the IL grammar’s inability to license a syllable position or (some of) the featural content present in such a position in the target representation. Within Optimality theory, the framework adopted, this is formalized through the competition between Faithfulness constraints and Markedness constraints, which evaluate the wellformedness of the licensing relationships. Finally, it is argued that Prosodic Licensing and the principle of Licensing Inheritance from Harris (1997) work together to encode prosodic markedness in representation, as they create a series of head-dependent asymmetries in which heads are strong licensors vis-à-vis their dependents.