Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: June 2019

1 - Formal Linguistic Approaches to Adult L2 Acquisition and Processing

from Part I - Theories

Summary

The relative conformity with which (typically developing) children attain adult grammatical competence—ultimate attainment—and the similarity in developmental paths along which they progress is remarkable (e.g., Ambridge & Lieven, 2011; Clark, 2003; Guasti, 2002; Synder, 2007). This achievement is, however, so ubiquitous and mundane that we seldom marvel at it. Of course, monolingual adult grammars may also differ from one another, especially for some domains of grammar (e.g., Dąbrowska, 1997, 2012), but such variability pales in comparison to the variation in adult non-native second language (L2) grammars. Indeed, the path and outcomes of L2 acquisition can be highly variable from one individual to another, even under seemingly comparable contexts. Individual and group-level factors in adulthood that either do not apply or apply with much less consequence in young childhood conspire to explain at least some of the gamut of L2 variability.

Abrahamsson, N., & Hyltenstam, K. (2008). The robustness of aptitude effects in near-native second language acquisition. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 30, 481509.
Abrahamsson, N., & Hyltenstam, K. (2009). Age of onset and nativelikeness in a second language: Listener perception versus linguistic scrutiny. Language Learning, 59, 249306.
Alemán Bañón, J., Fiorentino, R., & Gabriele, A. (2014). Morphosyntactic processing in advanced second language (L2) learners: An event-related potential investigation of the effects of L1–L2 similarity and structural distance. Second Language Research, 30, 275306.
Alemán Bañón, J., Miller, D., & Rothman, J. (2017). Morphological variability in second language learners: An examination of electrophysiological and production data. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 43(10), 15091536.
Ambridge, B., & Lieven, E. (2011). Child language acquisition: Contrasting theoretical approaches. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Berwick, R. C., & Chomsky, N. (2017). Why only us: Recent questions and answers. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 43, 166177.
Berwick, R. C., Chomsky, N., & Piattelli-Palmarini, M. (2012). Poverty of the stimulus stands: Why recent challenges fail. In Piattelli-Palmarini, M. & Berwick, R. C. (eds.), Rich languages from poor inputs (pp. 1942). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Berwick, R. C., Pietroski, P., Yankama, B., & Chomsky, N. (2011). Poverty of the stimulus revisited. Cognitive Science, 35(7), 12071242.
Bley-Vroman, R. (1983). The comparative fallacy in interlanguage studies: The case of systematicity. Language Learning, 33(1), 117.
Bley-Vroman, R. (1989). What is the logical problem of foreign language learning? In Gass, S. M. & Schachter, J. (eds.), Linguistic perspectives on second language acquisition (pp. 168). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bley-Vroman, R. (2009). The evolving context of the fundamental difference hypothesis. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 31, 175198.
Bruhn de Garavito, J. (2011). Subject/object asymmetries in the grammar of bilingual and monolingual Spanish speakers: Evidence against connectionism. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, 1(2), 111148.
Bylund, E., Abrahamsson, N., & Hyltenstam, K. (2012). Does first language maintenance hamper nativelikeness in a second language? A study of ultimate attainment in early bilinguals. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 34, 215241.
Bylund, E., Hyltenstam, K., & Abrahamsson, N. (2013). Age of acquisition effects or effects of bilingualism in second language ultimate attainment? In Granena, G. & Long, M. (eds.), Sensitive periods, language aptitude, and ultimate L2 attainment (pp. 69102). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Carroll, S. E. (2001). Input and evidence: The raw material of second language acquisition. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.
Chomsky, N. (1965). Aspects of the theory of syntax. Boston, MA: MIT Press.
Chomsky, N. (1981). A note on non-control PRO. Journal of Linguistic Research, 1(4), 111.
Chomsky, N. (1982). Some concepts and consequences of the theory of government and binding. Boston, MA: MIT Press.
Chomsky, N. (1995). The minimalist program. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Chomsky, N. (2001). Derivation by phase. In Kenstowicz, M. (ed.), Ken Hale: A life in language (pp. 152). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Clahsen, H., & Felser, C. (2006a). Grammatical processing in language learners. Applied Psycholinguistics, 27, 342.
Clahsen, H., & Felser, C. (2006b). How native-like is non-native language processing? TRENDS in Cognitive Sciences, 10, 564570.
Clahsen, H., & Felser, C. (2018). Some notes on the Shallow Structure Hypothesis. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 40(3), 693706.
Clahsen, H., & Muysken, P. (1989). The UG paradox in L2 acquisition. Second Language Research, 5, 129.
Clark, E. (2003). Languages and representations. In Gentner, D. & Goldin-Meadow, S. (eds.), Language in mind (pp. 1723). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Crain, S. (2012). The emergence of meaning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Coppieters, R. (1987). Competence differences between native and near-native speakers. Language, 63, 544573.
Coughlin, C. E., & Tremblay, A. (2013). Proficiency and working memory based explanations for nonnative speakers’ sensitivity to agreement in sentence processing. Applied Psycholinguistics, 34(3), 615646.
Cunnings, I. (2017). Parsing and working memory in bilingual sentence processing. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 20(4), 659678.
Curtiss, S. (1977). Genie: A psycholinguistic study of a modern day “wild child”. New York: Academic Press.
Dąbrowska, E. (1997). The LAD goes to school: A cautionary tale for nativists. Linguistics, 35, 735766.
Dąbrowska, E. (2012). Different speakers, different grammars: Individual differences in native language attainment. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, 2(3), 219253.
DeKeyser, R. M. (2000). The robustness of critical period effects in second language acquisition. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 22, 499533.
Dörnyei, Z. (1998). Motivation in second and foreign language learning. Language Teaching, 31(3), 117135.
Dörnyei, Z. (2003). Attitudes, orientations, and motivations in language learning: Advances in theory, research, and applications. Language Learning, 53(S1), 332.
Dörnyei, Z. (2014). The psychology of the language learner: Individual differences in second language acquisition. London: Routledge.
Ellis, N. C. (1998). Emergentism, connectionism and language learning. Language Learning, 48, 631664.
Felser, C., & Cunnings, I. (2012). Processing reflexives in a second language: The timing of structural and discourse-level constraints. Applied Psycholinguistics, 33(3), 571603.
Felser, C., Cunnings, I., Batterham, C., & Clahsen, H. (2012). The timing of island effects in nonnative sentence processing. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 34(1), 6798.
Felser, C., Sato, M., & Bertenshaw, N. (2009). The on-line application of Binding Principle A in English as a second language. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 12(4), 485502.
Fitch, W. T., & Hauser, M. D. (2004). Computational constraints on syntactic processing in a nonhuman primate. Science, 303(5656), 377380.
Fitch, W. T., Hauser, M. D., & Chomsky, N. (2005). The evolution of the language faculty: Clarifications and implications. Cognition, 97(2), 179210.
Foote, R. (2011). Integrated knowledge of agreement in early and late English–Spanish bilinguals. Applied Psycholinguistics, 32(1), 187220.
Franceschina, F. (2005). Fossilized second language grammars: The acquisition of grammatical gender. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Friederici, A. D., Pfeifer, E., & Hahne, A. (1993). Event-related brain potentials during natural speech processing: Effects of semantic, morphological and syntactic violations. Cognitive Brain Research, 1(3), 183192.
Fuchs, E., & Flügge, G. (2014). Adult Neuroplasticity: More Than 40 Years of Research. Neural Plasticity, 2014: 541870, 110.
Granena, G., & Long, M. (2013). Age of onset, length of residence, language aptitude, and ultimate L2 attainment in three linguistic domains. Second Language Research, 29(3), 311343.
Grüter, T., & Rohde, H. (2013). L2 processing is affected by RAGE: Evidence from reference resolution. Paper presented at The 12th Conference on Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition (GASLA).
Grüter, T., Rohde, H., & Schafer, A. J. (2017). Coreference and discourse coherence in L2. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, 7(2), 199229.
Guasti, M. (2002). Language development: The growth of grammar. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Hauser, M. D., Chomsky, N., & Fitch, W. T. (2002). The faculty of language: What is it, who has it, and how did it evolve? Science, 298(5598), 15691579.
Hawkins, R. (2001). The theoretical significance of Universal Grammar in second language acquisition. Second Language Research, 17(4), 345367.
Hawkins, R., & Casillas, G. (2008). Explaining frequency of verb morphology in early L2 speech. Lingua, 118, 595612.
Hawkins, R., & Chan, C. (1997). The partial availability of UG in second language acquisition: The Failed Functional Features Hypothesis. Second Language Research, 13, 187226.
Hopp, H. (2013). Grammatical gender in adult L2 acquisition: Relations between lexical and syntactic variability. Second Language Research, 29, 3356.
Jiang, N. (2004). Morphological insensitivity in second language processing. Applied Psycholinguistics, 25(4), 603634.
Jiang, N. (2007). Selective integration of linguistic knowledge in adult second language learning. Language Learning, 57, 133.
Johnson, J. S. (1992). Critical period effects in second language acquisition: The effect of written versus auditory materials on the assessment of grammatical competence. Language Learning, 42(2), 217248.
Johnson, J. S., & Newport, E. L. (1989). Critical period effects in second language learning: The influence of maturational state on the acquisition of English as a second language. Cognitive Psychology, 21, 6099.
Johnson, J. S., & Newport, E. L. (1991). Critical period effects on universal properties of language: The status of subjacency in the acquisition of a second language. Cognition, 39(3), 215258.
Juffs, A., & Harrington, M. (1995). Parsing effects in second language sentence processing: Subject and object asymmetries in wh- extraction. Studies in second language acquisition, 17(4), 483516.
Juffs, A., & Harrington, M. (1996). Garden path sentences and error data in second language sentence processing. Language learning, 46(2), 283323.
Kaan, E., Harris, A., Gibson, E., & Holcomb, P. (2000). The P600 as an index of syntactic integration difficulty. Language and Cognitive Processes, 15(2), 159201.
Kam, X. N. C., & Fodor, J. D. (2012). Children’s acquisition of syntax: Simple models are too simple. In Piattelli-Palmarini, M. & Berwick, R. C. (eds.), Rich languages from poor inputs (pp. 4360). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Kam, X. N. C., Stoyneshka, I., Tornyova, L., Fodor, J. D., & Sakas, W. G. (2008). Bigrams and the richness of the stimulus. Cognitive Science, 32, 771787.
Kanno, K. (1997). The acquisition of null and overt pronominals in Japanese by English speakers. Second Language Research, 13, 265–87.
Kanno, K. (1998). The stability of UG principles in second language acquisition. Linguistics, 36, 1125–1146.
Keating, G. D. (2009). Sensitivity to violations of gender agreement in native and nonnative Spanish: An eye-movement investigation. Language Learning, 59(3), 503535.
Kim, E., Baek, S., & Tremblay, A. (2015). The role of island constraints in second language sentence processing. Language Acquisition, 22(4), 384416.
Lasnik, H., & Lidz, J. (2017). The argument from the poverty of the stimulus. In Roberts, I. (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Universal Grammar (pp. 221249). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lenneberg, E. (1967). Biological foundations of language. New York: Wiley.
Lewis, J. D., & Elman, J. L. (2001). Learnability and the statistical structure of language: Poverty of stimulus arguments revisited. In Skarabela, B., Fish, S., & Do, A. H. J. (eds.), Proceedings of the twenty-sixth annual Boston University Conference on Language Development (pp. 359370). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla.
Linck, J. A., Osthus, P., Koeth, J. T., & Bunting, M. F. (2014). Working memory and second language comprehension and production: A meta-analysis. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 21(4), 861883.
Long, M. (2005). Problems with supposed counter-evidence to the critical period hypothesis. International Review of Applied Linguistics, 43(4), 287317.
Marsden, H. L., & Slabakova, R. (2017). Grammatical meaning and the second language classroom: introduction. Language Teaching Research, 111.
Marsden, H. L., Whong, M., & Gil, K. H. (2018). What’s in the textbook and what’s in the mind: Polarity item “any” in learner English. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 40(1), 128.
Martohardjono, G. (1993). Wh-movement in the acquisition of a second language: A cross-linguistic study of 3 languages with and without overt movement. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Cornell University.
Meisel, J. M. (2011). First and second language acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Montalbetti, M. (1984). After binding: On the interpretation of pronouns. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Massachusets Institute of Technology.
Omaki, A., & Schulz, B. (2011). Filler-gap dependencies and island constraints in second-language sentence processing. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 33(4), 563588.
Ortega, L. (2013). SLA for the 21st century: Disciplinary progress, transdisciplinary relevance, and the bi/multilingual turn. Language Learning, 63(S1), 124.
Ortega, L. (2016). Multi-competence in second language acquisition: Inroads into the mainstream. In Cook, V. and Wei, L. (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Linguistic Multi-Competence (pp. 5076). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Osterhout, L., & Holcomb, P. J. (1992). Event-related brain potentials elicited by syntactic anomaly. Journal of Memory and Language, 31(6), 785806.
Osterhout, L., McKinnon, R., Bersick, M., & Corey, V. (1996). On the language specificity of the brain response to syntactic anomalies: Is the syntactic positive shift a member of the P300 family? Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 8(6), 507526.
Paradis, M. (2009). Declarative and procedural determinants of second languages. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Patterson, C., Trompelt, H., & Felser, C. (2014). The online application of binding condition B in native and non-native pronoun resolution. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 116.
Pérez-Leroux, A. T., & Glass, W. (1997). OPC effects in the L2 acquisition of Spanish. In Pérez-Leroux, A. T. & Glass, W. (eds.), Contemporary perspectives on the acquisition of Spanish. Vol. 1: Developing grammars (pp. 149165). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
Pérez-Leroux, A. T., & Glass, W. (1999). Null anaphora in Spanish second language acquisition: Probabilistic versus generative approaches. Second Language Research, 15, 220249.
Prévost, P., & White, L. (2000). Missing surface inflection or impairment in second language acquisition? Evidence from tense and agreement. Second Language Research, 16, 103133.
Rankin, T. (2017). Working memory and L2 acquisition and processing. Second Language Research, 33(3), 389399.
Rankin, T., & Unsworth, S. (2016). Beyond poverty: Engaging with input in generative SLA. Second Language Research, 32, 563572.
Reali, F., & Christiansen, M. H. (2003). Reappraising poverty of stimulus argument: A corpus analysis approach. In Brugos, A., Micciulla, L., & Smith, C. E. (eds.), Proceedings supplement of the 28th annual Boston University conference on language development (Epub, access at: http://www.bu.edu/bucld/proceedings/supplement/vol28/). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla.
Reali, F., & Christiansen, M. H. (2005). Uncovering the richness of the stimulus: Structure dependence and indirect statistical evidence. Cognitive Science, 29, 10071028.
Roberts, L., González Alonso, J., Pliatsikas, C., & Rothman, J. (2018). Evidence from neurolinguistic methodologies: Can it actually inform linguistic/language acquisition theories and translate to evidence-based applications? Second Language Research, 34(1), 125143.
Robinson, P. (2001). Individual differences, cognitive abilities, aptitude complexes and learning conditions in second language acquisition. Second Language Research, 17(4), 368392.
Robinson, P. (2005). Aptitude and second language acquisition. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 25, 4673.
Robinson, P. (2013). Aptitude in second language acquisition. In Chapelle, C. (ed.), The encyclopedia of applied linguistics (pp. 198202). Malden, MA: Wiley–Blackwell.
Ross, J. R. (1967). Constraints on variables in syntax. PhD dissertation, Massachusets Institute of Technology [later published in 1986 as Infinite syntax! (Norwood, NJ: Ablex).]
Rothman, J. (2008). Why all counter-evidence to the critical period hypothesis in second language acquisition is not equal or problematic. Language and Linguistics Compass, 2(6), 10631088.
Rothman, J., & Guijarro-Fuentes, P. (2010). Input quality matters: Some comments on input type and age-effects in adult SLA. Applied Linguistics, 31(2), 301306.
Rothman, J., & Iverson, M. (2010). Independent normative assessments for bi/multilingualism, Where art thou. In Cruz-Ferrera, M. (ed.), Multilingual norms (pp. 3351). Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.
Rothman, J., & Slabakova, R. (2018). State of the scholarship: The generative approach to SLA and its place in modern second language studies. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 40(2), 417442.
Sagarra, N., & Herschensohn, J. (2010). The role of proficiency and working memory in gender and number agreement processing in L1 and L2 Spanish. Lingua, 120(8), 20222039.
Sagarra, N., & Herschensohn, J. (2011). Proficiency and animacy effects on L2 gender agreement processes during comprehension. Language Learning, 61(1), 80116.
Sagarra, N., & Herschensohn, J. (2013). Processing of gender and number agreement in late Spanish bilinguals. International Journal of Bilingualism, 17(5), 607627.
Schachter, J. (1988). Second language acquisition and its relation to Universal Grammar. Applied Linguistics, 9, 219235.
Schachter, J. (1990). On the issue of completeness in second language acquisition. Interlanguage Studies Bulletin (Utrecht), 6(2), 93124.
Schachter, J., & Yip, V. (1990). Grammaticality judgements: Why does anyone object to subject extraction. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 12, 379392.
Schwartz, B. D. (1986). The epistemological status of second language acquisition. Second Language Research, 2, 120159.
Schwartz, B. D. (1998). The second language instinct. Lingua, 106, 133160.
Schwartz, B. D., & Sprouse, R. A. (1996). L2 cognitive states and the full transfer/full access model. Second Language Research, 12, 4072.
Schwartz, B. D., & Sprouse, R. A. (2000). When syntactic theories evolve: Consequences for L2 acquisition research. In Archibald, J. (ed.), Second language acquisition and linguistic theory (pp. 156186). Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Schwartz, B. D., & Sprouse, R. A. (2013). Generative approaches and the poverty of the stimulus. In Herschensohn, J. & Young-Scholten, M. (eds.), The Cambridge handbook of second language acquisition (pp. 137158). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Slabakova, R. (2013). Adult second language acquisition: A selective overview with a focus on the learner linguistic system. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, 3, 4872.
Sturt, P. (2003). The time-course of the application of binding constraints in reference resolution. Journal of Memory and Language, 48(3), 542562.
Snyder, W. (2007). Child language: The parametric approach. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Traxler, M. J., & Pickering, M. J. (1996). Plausibility and the processing of unbounded dependencies: An eye-tracking study. Journal of Memory and Language, 35(3), 454475.
Tsimpli, I. M., & Dimitrakopoulou, M. (2007). The interpretability hypothesis: Evidence from wh- interrogatives in second language acquisition. Second Language Research, 23(2), 215242.
Ullman, M. T. (2005). A cognitive neuroscience perspective on second language acquisition: The declarative/procedural model. In Sanz, C. (ed.), Mind and context in adult second language acquisition: Methods, theory and practice (pp. 141178). Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.
Ullman, M. T. (2016). The declarative/procedural model: A neurobiological model of language learning, knowledge, and use. In Small, S. L. (ed.), Neurobiology of language (pp. 953968). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
White, L. (1985). Is there a “logical problem” of second language acquisition? TESL Canada Journal, 2(2), 2941.
White, L. (1992). Subjacency violations and empty categories in second language acquisition. In Goodluck, H. & Rochemont, M. (eds.), Island constraints (pp. 445464). Dordrecht: Springer.
White, L. (2003). Second language acquisition and Universal Grammar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
White, L. (2018). Formal linguistics and second language acquisition. In Miller, D., Bayram, F., Rothman, J., & Serratrice, L. (eds.), Bilingualism: The state of the science across its subfields (pp. 5777). Amsterdam and Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.
Williams, J. N., Möbius, P., & Kim, C. (2001). Native and non-native processing of English wh- questions: Parsing strategies and plausibility constraints. Applied Psycholinguistics, 22(4), 509540.
Whong, M., Gil, K. H., & Marsden, H. (eds.) (2013). Universal Grammar and the second language classroom. Dordrecht: Springer.
Yang, C., & Montrul, S. (2017). Learning datives: The Tolerance Principle in monolingual and bilingual acquisition. Second Language Research, 33, 119144.