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LINGUIST List 19.3109

Tue Oct 14 2008

FYI: CUNY Linguistics Colloquium Series- Correction

Editor for this issue: Matthew Lahrman <mattlinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Nazik Dinctopal, City University of New York (CUNY) Linguistics Colloquium Series-Correction

Message 1: City University of New York (CUNY) Linguistics Colloquium Series-Correction
Date: 13-Oct-2008
From: Nazik Dinctopal <nazik.dinctopalgmail.com>
Subject: City University of New York (CUNY) Linguistics Colloquium Series-Correction
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The second CUNY LINGUISTICS COLLOQUIUM of the fall semester will be held

on: Thursday, October 16, 2008
at: 4:15 p.m.
at: The CUNY Graduate Center - 365 Fifth Avenue - New York (room 6417)
by: Donna Lardiere (Georgetown University)
on: Feature Reassembly in Second Language Acquisition


In this talk I consider prevailing notions of ''parameter-resetting'' in
adult second language acquisition (SLA) and argue that these notions are
problematic. Within a principles-and-parameters framework, parameters are
hypothesized to constitute a limited set of highly restrictive options, or
points of variation, between languages. Over the past two decades within
formal linguistic approaches to SLA, the failure of many adult language
learners to reach nativelike grammatical proficiency has been descriptively
modeled in terms of an inability to reset one or more parameters from the
L1 value to that of the L2. For example, Haegeman (1988: 255) outlines a
basic strategy for modeling L2 syntactic development in terms of

To go from the L1 to the L2, learners will often have to reset existing
parameters or reassign values to them. Failure to do so will mean that the
learner does not attain the L2. The latter possibility seems to be what
negative transfer is about.

More recently, essentially the same view has been updated in terms of
''parametric feature selection'' in which certain features that are
morphologically expressed (or ''selected'') in the L2 but not in the
learner's L1 (or any language learned prior to a hypothesized critical
period), are claimed to be no longer available and thus unacquirable,
resulting in the phenomenon of incomplete L2 acquisition known as
''fossilization'' or ''impairment'' (e.g., Hawkins 2005; Hawkins & Hattori
2006; Tsimpli & Dimitrakopolou 2007).

Using findings from a longitudinal case study (Lardiere, 2007) and a
cross-sectional study (Choi & Lardiere, 2006) as well as linguistic
examples from English, Mandarin Chinese, and Korean, I show how the formal
task facing a second language learner is actually much more complex than
the parametric ''selecting'' of a new feature such as [+past] or [+plural]
in the target language. Under the view that grammatical categories are
bundles of morphosyntactic features, it is clear that these features can be
combined and permuted in various configurations cross-linguistically. So,
among the difficulties confronting any learner in figuring out how to
express the morphological categories of any language are the following:

-What are the particular factors that condition the realization of a
certain form (such as an inflection) and are these phonological,
morphosyntactic, semantic or discourse-linked?

-Are certain forms optional or obligatory, and what constitutes an
obligatory context?

-In which functional categories are various features expressed, clustered
in combination with what other features? To what extent are such
categorial-feature correspondences and clusters universally invariant?

I will illustrate just a few of the types of interesting learning problems
confronting an adult native speaker of one (or more) language(s) who is
trying to learn the grammatical features of another. In sum, I will argue
that acquiring the L2 involves determining how to reconfigure or remap
features from the way these are organized in the L1 into new formal
configurations on possibly quite different types of lexical items in the
L2. This is a formidable learning task that goes far beyond the simple
''switch-setting'' or ''selecting'' metaphors often used to characterize
the acquisition of a second language grammar.

Linguistic Field(s): Language Acquisition

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