This book casts new light on the debate of adult L2 learners’ access to Universal Grammar (UG) by comparing the performance of adult L2 learners with that of child L2 learners. The study in this book compares Arabic- and Chinese-speaking child and adult L2 learners’ acquisition of English reflexives, particularly concentrating on the differences between child and adult L2 learners in terms of their a) acquisition of the local binding of English reflexives, b) obedience of UG constraints on reflexives and c) knowledge of the syntactic differences between reflexives and pronouns.
The outline of the book goes as follows: chapter one is a general introduction to the study. Chapter two discusses the linguistic assumptions and empirical evidence of Usage-Based-Approaches and Generative Approaches with regards to language acquisition, in general, and the interpretation of reflexives, in particular. Adopting Generative Grammar as a theoretical background for this study, age effects on access to UG in first and second language acquisition are discussed in chapter three. Chapter four presents different views on access to UG in second language acquisition and reviews previous studies on the acquisition of reflexives by L2 learners. Chapter five discusses the methodology of this study in terms of participants’ selection, materials used, procedures followed and data analysed. Chapter six presents the results of the study, and chapter seven discusses the results of the study with regards to previous studies and theories. The study shows that the grammar of adult L2 learners is constrained by UG and they can have full access to UG in advanced stages of L2 acquisition.
The findings of this study will be of interest to L2 researchers in generative grammar, in general, and in second language acquisition, in particular.