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Universal Grammar and Parameter Resetting in Second Language Acquisition


Martin Kaltenbacher

Diese Arbeit wurde mit dem Förderpreis der Landeshauptstadt Salzburg zur Förderung von Kunst, Wissenschaft und Literatur ausgezeichnet.
The book addresses the issue of Universal Grammar (UG) and parameter resetting in Second Language (L2) acquisition. The central questions are: what is the initial state of a learner’s L2-grammar and does UG play a role in L2-acquisition? Several hypotheses are evaluated and set in relation to four parameters that are suggested to play a central role in UG and language acquisition. Particular focus is put on parametric differences between English and German. For this purpose Austrian learners have been tested on null subjects and adverbial and verb placement. It is shown that the learners transfer the L1-parameter settings into their early English interlanguage grammars. They are then involved in a disrupted process of parameter resetting, which is not guided by UG but proceeds via cognitive processes and learning strategies.
Contents: Universal grammar in language acquisition – The pro-drop parameter – Parameterisation of adverbial and adverb placement – The head parameter – A case study with Austrian learners of L2-English.