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Unit 4Nativist theories in SLA: also called mentalist, emphasize the role of innate knowledge, The Language Acquisition Device (LAD) helps the learner to discover the rules of the target language grammar. The LAD contains knowledge of linguistic universals. Language universals aim at describing language and they focus on the product not the process. /There are 2 approaches to the study of linguistic universals in SLA:– Typological Universals (TU) – Universal Grammar (UG)//Typological Universals (TU): Cross-linguistic comparison of a wide range of languages drawn from different families to discover what features they have in common. Universal Grammar (UG): Generativists have studied individual languages in great depth in order to identify the principles of grammar which underlie and govern specific rules./ The universals identified by the two approaches are very different: – Typological universals are couched in the familiar language of grammatical descriptions and refer to specific linguistic properties- Example:‘all languages have nouns and verbs’ – Universal Grammar consists of principles and parameters, which are described by means of highly abstract statements relating to general properties of language. Interlanguage as a natural language Interlanguage: “the systematic knowledge of an L2 which is independent of both learners’ L1and the TL”. Interlanguage has different but related meanings:1. the series of interlocking systems which characterize acquisition. 2. the system that is observed at a single stage of development (‘an interlanguage’). 3. particular L1/L2 combinations (L1French/L2 English). The interlanguage system would be made up of different components (language universals,L1 elements). An interlanguage at any stage can be seen as a natural language, that is, as a full linguistic system. Interlanguage Hypothesis: interlanguages are ‘natural languages’ and, therefore, subject to all the same constraints. The goal should be to decribe and explain the nature of the learner’s competence at different stages of development by analysing data collected experimentally. Interlanguages are languages. Linguistic universals apply to natural languages and Interlanguages. Typological Universals Characteristics:  crosslinguistic comparsion p of specific features such as articles, word order or relativeclause.Basis for identifying both which features are rare and common in a particular language.It is data-driven and descriptive.Knowldege of linguistic universals may help to shape L2 acquisition in a number of ways:1) Do typological universals have some influence on the order of acquisition ofgramatical features?– Learners may acquire rules that reflect universal principles before they acquire rules that do not. 2) Does markedness have an effect on learning difficulty? – Learners may learn those parameters that are less marked (e.g.: singular forms) better than those that are marked (e.g.: plural forms) 3) Does the typological status of L1 grammatical features have an effect on the TL, that is,on transfer? – Learners may be more prepared to transfer L1 features if these conform to universal principles

Universal Grammar This approach is motivated by a powerful theory of language (UG)ana well-developed model of grammar (Government/Binding; Chomsky, 1976).  UG constitutes the best theory of grammar currently available, because it achievesboth descriptive adequacy and explanatory adequacy./ The Theory of UG is both:a description of language (more specifically of grammar)and  a theory of how knowledge of a language (more specifically of grammar) is acquired. Characteristics 1. Modularity 2. Grammar is a system of symbol-manipulating rules 3. Competence 4. Poverty of stimulus 5. Language instinct 6. Acquisition as parameter setting Universal Grammar> Principles and Parameters UG is ‘the system of principles, conditions and rules that are elements or properties ofall human languages’ that is, UG comprises a set of universals. These universals consist of principles and parameters which control the shape. Human languages can take and make human languages similar to one another  Universal Grammar> SLA and the Structure Dependency Principle  Language is organized in such a way that it crucially depends on the structural relationships between elements in a sentence. Words are grouped into higher-level structures which are the units which form the basis of language, that is, into phrases (NP, VP, etc.). All Ls are made up of sentences which consist at least of a noun-phrase and a verbphrase / The Structure Dependency Principle is operative in SLA. L2 learners do not usually violate this principle. It defines the restrictions that govern how far one phrase can be moved from ‘deep’ to ‘surface structure. Universal Grammar> SLA and the Pro-drop Parameter  This parameter is based on the “Extended Projection Principle” (All sentences have subjects). The pro-drop parameter ‘determines whether the subject of a clause can be suppressed’ . Therefore, it is a parameter with two settings: – pro-drop: pro is permitted as subject Basque/Spanish: (Él) habla mucho – non pro-drop: pro is not permitted as subject English: He speaks a lot // GENERAL CONCLUSIONS: -Studies show some evidence for transfer of the L1 parameter setting, and in some cases for resetting to the L2 value. -There is some clustering in the acquisition of the features hypothesised to be related to the pro-drop parameter (emergence of auxiliary, expletives). – Other studies provide no evidence of clustering -Overall, studies provide no real support for a parameter-setting model of acquisition. -In general mixed results with regard to our two questions Universal Grammar>Access to UG in SLA –VIEW I (Cook, 1988) L2 learners (like L1 learners) possess knowledge of the TLwhich they could not have acquired from the input and which, therefore, comes fromUG.  VIEW II: there are several significant differences between L1 and L2 acquisition: L2 learners are cognitively mature, L2 learners know at least one other L , L2 learners have different motivations to learn the L2 –VIEW III · L2 acquisition is different to L1 acquisition because it is qualitatively different too. L2 competence is different from L1 competence not just quantitatively but also qualitatively.//