Department of Modern Languages and Literatures
University of Ottawa
|Type of Study:||xxx|
In accordance with TalkBank rules, any use of data from this corpus must be accompanied by at least one of the above references.
Primary: Boris, Devon, Kate, Misha
University: Christiana, Joanne, Kim, Luisa, Susy
The general objective of the research program which led to the elicitation of these data was to investigate the relationship between Chomsky's Principles and Parameters theory and the process of second language (L2) acquisition. The specific research goals of the program were to determine in what respects non-native grammars differ from native grammars and whether the differences could be attributed to the nature of the grammatical representation and/or the principles which regulate L2 acquisition. We collected longitudinal oral data for two consecutive years. Six children, ten adolescents and six adults were interviewed six times each year for a total of 264 sessions. We used guided interviews intended to elicit spontaneous speech as well as samples of clitic pronouns, yes/no and wh-questions and relative clauses. We carried out raw transcriptions of all the data and put the transcriptions in CHAT format. The specific contributions of the two subprojects can be summarized as follows: 1) Parameter-setting versus local re-structuring. We argued that non-native grammars are specific in that, unlike L1 learners, L2 learners do not access a given feature to fix the various options of a parameter but re-structure each L2 construction locally. We attributed this to the fact that L2 learners (including children), unlike L1 learners, have a sophisticated phonological system which prevents them from using a bottom-up processing strategy when they access language data. 2) ‘Representational’ versus ‘processing’ triggers. We showed that non-native grammars are specific (and different from L1 grammars) due to the different triggers involved in the activation of the various features. Namely, while L1 learners access phonological and morphological triggers to project abstract features, L2 learners, via a top-down processing strategy, rely on word-order triggers and full phrases (including explicit agreement features) to build L2 constructions locally. Two Ph.D dissertations and five M.A. thesis resulted from this project.