Edited By Jacek Witkos and Sylwester Jaworski
Case-Ending Processing in Initial Polish L2: The Role of Frequency, Word Order and Lexical Transparency
Università degli studi di Bergamo
1. Introduction: The Villa project
This paper is a contribution to the still largely unexplored, but rapidly developing field of initial Second Language Acquisition. The insights provided by this promising research area may be extremely helpful for a general theory of Second Language acquisition, as numerous scholars working both in the generativist (Vainikka and Young-Scholten 1998) and in the functionalist paradigm (Perdue 1990) have long been claiming.
However, such studies pose serious methodological difficulties in that it is hard to find true “beginner” learners, i.e. without any previous exposure to the target language; secondly, the crucial variable of input is also hard to control and this often leads to employing artificial languages (Hulstijn and Dekeyser 1997). This study, in contrast, is based on data elicited from the Italian edition of the VILLA project (Varieties of Initial Learners in Language Acquisition), whose purpose is to explore the very initial stages of adult second language acquisition in an ecologically valid context (Dimroth et alii 2013). The VILLA project aims at studying interlanguage development over a significant period of exposure (14 hours) while at the same time retaining full control over the input. To this purpose, learners were exposed to a 14-hour Polish course taught by a professional teacher of Polish L2. Both teacher input and learner output were digitally recorded throughout the course and later transcribed. From these transcriptions, thus, it is possible to retrieve the context...
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