AcqVA Aurora Guest Lecture Series

Guest Lecture

Transfer and universality in the second language acquisition of syntax/semantics interface phenomena

Tania Ionin

The Department of Linguistics, University of Illionis, Urbana-Champaign

When: Thursday 14.05, at 16:15-18:00

Where: Online

In this talk, I will give an overview of research on the second language (L2) acquisition of syntax/semantics interface phenomena that is being conducted by my research group. The overall goals of this research program, which focuses on the contrasts between English, Korean and Mandarin Chinese, are to (i) examine which aspects of semantic knowledge are universal, and available to L2-learners independently of their L1, and which aspects are subject to transfer from the L1; (ii) examine the role of L1-transfer at the level of individual learners, by testing the same participants in both their L1 and their L2; and (iii) compare learners’ performance on offline vs. online tasks, in order to examine what learners know at both more explicit and more implicit levels.

The four linguistic phenomena examined in this talk are (i) English definite and indefinite articles in the grammars of L1-Korean and L1-Chinese L2-English learners (Ionin, Choi & Liu 2019, in press); (ii) plural marking and atomicity in the L2-English of L1-Korean and L1-Chinese L2-English learners (Choi, Ionin & Zhu 2018; Choi & Ionin 2017, under revision; Choi 2020); (iii) inverse scope in the L2-English of L1-Chinese speakers (Wu & Ionin 2019, in press); and (iv) the range of interpretations available to anaphora in the L2-English of L1-Korean speakers (Kim 2019) as well as the L2-Chinese of L1-English and L1-Korean speakers (Chen 2019). For all four phenomena, the findings of offline judgment tasks will be reported; for the first two (articles and plural marking), results of online self-paced reading tasks will also be reported. Overall, the findings provide a nuanced picture of L1-transfer across linguistic domains, but also provide evidence for L1-independent patterns, in particular with regard to the universal role of atomicity in the L2-acquisition of plural marking, and the default status of local binding of reflexive anaphors.


Guest Lecture

Not Everything Lost

Maria Polinsky

The Department of Linguistics, University of Maryland, United States

When: Thursday 23.04, at 14:15-16:00

Where: Online


A heritage language speaker is defined as an L1 speaker who received limited input in later stages of L1 acquisition and who is more comfortable in another language, typically the dominant language of their society. In the past two decades, interest in heritage languages has stimulated vigorous research in this type of bilingualism, ranging from sociolinguistic investigations to in-depth investigations of heritage-language grammars. This talk will be concerned with the latter line of inquiry. A growing body of research has indicated that heritage speakers and baseline speakers (i.e. speakers of the language that serves as input in heritage-language acquisition) may differ not only in performance but also in underlying representations (so called divergent attainment). In this talk, I will present and analyze several examples of heritage/baseline differences in underlying representations and will then argue that some differences can be predicted on the basis of general principles. The proposed principles can be generalized to apply to other language contact situations that lead to divergent attainment.


Guest Lecture

Exploring the acquisition of L3 phonology: challenges, new insights and future perspectives

Magdalena Wrembel

Faculty of English, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań

When: Thursday 20.02, at 14:15-15:00

Where: E-0101, UiT, Tromsø, Norway

This talk aims to further our understanding of the acquisition of speech from a multilingual perspective by offering a state-of-the-art overview of findings as well as some theoretical and methodological considerations in research on L3 phonological acquisition. As the discipline grows dynamically, the methodologies employed advance, yet certain aspects continue to pose a challenge, e.g. longitudinal designs, different types of L3 learners, phonological proficiency assessment or cross-linguistic measures of production and perception. From a theoretical perspective, the applicability of established L3 morphosyntactic models to phonological data is being challenged, while some alternative explanatory approaches are put forward, including the Dynamic System Theory framework (e.g. Kopečková et al. 2016); an L3 extension of the Perceptual Assimilation Model by Best 1995 (Wrembel et al. 2019) or the Natural Growth Theory of Acquisition (Dziubalska-Kołaczyk and Wrembel 2017, 2019).

In this talk I will also present new insights from a longitudinal international project on cross-linguistic influence (CLI) in phonological acquisition by multilingual adolescents (“Multi-Phon” 2017-19). Major findings discussed will be related to developmental trajectories of foreign language phonologies from initial stages of the L3 over the first year of classroom instruction; complex cross-linguistic interactions over time; the relation between production and perception modalities; individual variation as well as the effects of L1 background and language proficiency. Finally, avenues for future research in the area will be proposed.

After the talk there will be a small reception on the balcony outside of the D-wing.

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