Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 June 2009
This article presents evidence that supports the claim that second language (L2) grammars arise in a domain-specific, informationally encapsulated module with contents provided by Universal Grammar and enriched by native language knowledge, as entertained by Schwartz (1986, 1987, 1999) contra Bley-Vroman (1990). I consider state-of-the-art evidence representative of a body of research on the poverty of the stimulus (POS) that argues for the domain-specificity of L2 representations, with a main focus on interpretation. Then I examine interpretive evidence relevant to the role of informational encapsulation and compositionality in SLA. I seek to demonstrate that the acquisition of syntax-linked interpretive properties where the POS is severe provides opportunities for a type of fingerprinting of mental organization that can inform a variety of epistemologically relevant questions.