The Issue of Age and Language Transfer in Second Language Acquisition
Keywords:age effects, language transfer, initial stages, second language acquisition of English, V-raising
The purpose of this paper is to contribute to second language acquisition research by exploring the age effects in the initial stages of second language (L2) development with respect to the mother tongue transfer of morphosyntactic features. It assumes the generative framework of grammar and language acquisition, where direct L2 child- adult comparison has been a neglected area of research. The [± strong] Infl parameter of Universal Grammar, V-raising in particular, is taken as the linguistic element of investigation, since it assigns different values in English [- strong] and in Macedonian [+ strong]. The participants in the experiment were a group of children (age 8-11) and a group of adults (age 20-60), all native speakers of Macedonian and beginners of L2 English. They were tested after a four-week exposure to specifically designed instruction on English V-raising. As the entire L1 grammar transfers, the results offer support for the Conservation Hypothesis for L1 transfer for the initial stages of second language acquisition (Van de Craats et al. 1999).
Bialystok, E. and K. Hakuta. 1999. Confounded age: linguistic and cognitive factors in age differences for second language acquisition. In D. Birdsong (ed.) Second Language Acquisition and the Critical Period Hypothesis. Mahwah, Nj: Erlbaum, 161–81.
Bley-Vroman, R. 1989. What is the logical problem of foreign language learning?. In S. M. Gass and j. Schachter (eds.) Linguistic Perspectives on Second Language Acquisition. Cambridge: CUP, 41–68.
Chomsky, N. 1981. Lectures on Government and Binding. Dordrecht: Foris.
Epstein, S., S. Flynn and G. Martohardjono. 1996. Second language acquisition: Theoretical and experimental issues in contemporary research. Brain and Behavioral Sciences 19, 677–758.
Eubank, L. 1994. Optionality and the initial state in L2 development. In T. Hoekstra and B. D. Schwartz (eds.) Language Acquisition Studies in Generative Grammar. Amsterdam: john Benjamins, 369–88.
Goodluck, H. 1991. Language Acquisition. A Linguistic Introduction. Oxford: Basil Blackwell Ltd.
Hawkins, R. and Y-H. C. Chan. 1997. The partial availability of universal grammar in second language acquisition: The ‘failed functional features hypothesis’. Second Language Research 13/3, 187–226.
Haznedar, B. 1997. L2 acquisition by a Turkish-speaking child: Evidence for L1 influence. In E. Hughes, M. Hughes and A. Greenhill (eds.) Proceedings of the 21st Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press, 245–56.
Herschensohn, J. 2000. The Second Time Round: Minimalism and L2 Acquisition. Amsterdam: john Benjamins.
Hilles, S. 1986. Interlanguage and the pro-drop parameter. Second Language Research 2: 33–52.
Iatridou, S. 1990. About Agr(p). Linguistic Inquiry 21: 551–77.
Krashen, S. D. 1982. Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. Hemel Hamstead, Hertfordshire: Prentice Hall International.
Lakshmanan, U. 1991. Morphological uniformity and null subjects in child second language acquisition. In L. Eubank (ed.) Point Counterpoint. Universal Grammar in Second Language Acquisition. Amsterdam: john Benjamins, 389–418.
Long, M. 1990. Maturational constraints on language development. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 12, 251–85.
Meisel, j. M. 2000. On transfer at the initial state of L2 acquisition. Arbeiten zur Mehrsprachigkeit (Working Papers in Multilingualism) 1, 2–23.
Odlin, T. 1993. Language Transfer: Cross-linguistic influence in language learning. Cambridge: CUP.
Parodi, T., B. D. Schwartz and H. Clahsen. 2004. On the L2 acquisition of the morphosyntax of German nominals. Linguistics 42/3, 669–705.
Phinney, M. 1987. The pro-drop parameter in second language acquisition. In T. Rroeper and E. Williams (eds.) Parameter Setting. Dordrecht: Reidel, 221–38.
Platzack, C. 1996. The initial hypothesis of syntax: A minimalist perspective on language acquisition and attrition. In H. Clahsen (ed.) Generative Perspectives on Language Acquisition: Empirical Findings, Theoretical Considerations, Crosslinguistic Comparisons. Amsterdam: John Bejamins, 369–414.
Pollock, J-Y. 1989. Verb movement, UG and the structure of IP. Linguistic Inquiry 20, 365– 424.
Rast, R. 1999. The first hours of second language acquisition. Acquisition et Interaction en Langue Étrangère 2, 73–87.
Schwartz, B. D. 2003. Child L2 acquisition: Paving the way. In B. Beachley, et al. (eds.) Proceedings of the 27th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press, 26–50.
Schwartz, B. D. and R. Sprouse. 1994. Word order and nominative case in non-native language acquisition: A longitudinal study of (L1 Turkish) German interlanguage. In T. Hoekstra and B. D. Schwartz (eds.) Language Acquisition Studies in Generative Grammar. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 317–68.
Slavoff, R. G. and j.S. johnson. 1995. The Effects of Age on the Rate of Learning a Second Language. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 17, 1–16.
Stromswold, K. 1990. Learnability and the Acquisition of Auxiliaries. Unpublished PhD thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Tsimpli, I-M. and A. Roussou. 1991. Parameter resetting in L2? UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 3, 149–69.
Unsworth, S. 2002b. Young (and older) L2 learners and Dutch scrambling. In M. Cazzoli-Goeta, S. Pourcel and L. Van Espen (eds.) Proceedings of the Fifth Durham Postgraduate Conference in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics. Durham: School of Linguistics and Language, 205–14.
Vainikka, A. and M. Young-Scholten. 1994. Direct access to X’- theory: Evidence from Korean and Turkish adults learning German. In T. Hoekstra and B. D. Schwartz (eds.) Language Acquisition Studies in Generative Grammar. Amsterdam: john Benjamins, 265–316.
Van de Craats, I., N. Corver and R. Van Hout. 1999. The Conservation Hypothesis: The initial state revisited. Acquisition et Interaction en Langue Étrangère 2, 103–17. White, L. 1990/1991. The verb movement parameter in second language acquisition. Language Acquisition 1, 337–60.
How to Cite
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.