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EVIDENCE FOR THE FUNDAMENTAL DIFFERENCE HYPOTHESIS OR NOT?: Island Constraints Revisited

  • Alyona Belikova (a1) and Lydia White (a1)

Abstract

This article examines how changes in linguistic theory affect the debate between the fundamental difference hypothesis and the access-to-Universal Grammar (UG) approach to SLA. With a focus on subjacency (Chomsky, 1973), a principle of UG that places constraints on wh-movement and that has frequently been taken as a test case for verifying second language (L2) access to UG, we reanalyze earlier L2 findings in terms of a revised constraint, which effectively prohibits extraction out of subjects and adjuncts. We show that L2 learners indeed observe such a constraint on wh-movement, and, at the same time, we suggest that recent claims for a universal computational system (e.g., Chomsky, 1995; Uriagereka, 1999) make the respective roles of the first language and UG difficult to tease apart.

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Corresponding author

*Address correspondence to: Alyona Belikova, Department of Linguistics, McGill University, 1085 Dr. Penfield Avenue, Montreal, QC, H3A 1A7, Canada; e-mail: alyona.belikova@mail.mcgill.ca.

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