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How students acquire things you never teach them

How students acquire things you never teach them

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How students acquire things you never teach them

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  1. How students acquire things you never teach them Robert Kluender Department of Linguistics, UCSD UCCLLT Workshop on Grammar and Language Teaching June 20, 2004

  2. Is L2 acquisition like L1 acquisition? The results of critical period research: • there is a definite decline in ultimate attainment with age across childhood • it affects L1A more than L2A • unclear how much of it is biological • phonology correlates better with AoA than morphosyntax (but accentless non-native speakers seem to exist)

  3. Is L2 acquisition like L1 acquisition? • Often it is assumed that L2A differs from L1A most in terms of implicit learning • However, there is also very clear evidence of implicit learning in L2A

  4. What would constitute proof? • The best evidence for implicit learning in L1A is reorganization • We identify L1 reorganization by a temporary increase in systematic errors, the “U-shaped” learning curve • Is there any evidence for a U-shaped learning curve in L2 acquisition?

  5. The strange case of unaccusatives Why unaccusative verbs are a good test case for implicit learning: • they are found in every language, i.e. are a well-attested linguistic universal • they behave systematically • they are not theory-dependent • nobody knows about them, so they can’t possibly be explicitly taught

  6. An aside/exhortation from my hobbyhorse soapbox bully pulpit

  7. An aside/exhortation from my hobbyhorse soapbox bully pulpit • “Stop drilling!” (BVP)

  8. An aside/exhortation from my hobbyhorse soapbox bully pulpit • “Stop drilling for UG!” (RK)

  9. An aside/exhortation from my hobbyhorse soapbox bully pulpit • “Stop drilling for Universal Grammar!”

  10. An aside/exhortation from my hobbyhorse soapbox bully pulpit • “Stop drilling for L2 evidence of wh-movement constraints !”

  11. An aside/exhortation from my hobbyhorse soapbox bully pulpit • Even assuming that they are part of Universal Grammar, wh-movement constraints are a moving target as to – their overall status in the theory – their current theoretical formulation • Accumulating evidence that they are instead a processing phenomenon

  12. The strange case of unaccusatives • native speakers are naturally unaware of this phenomenon in their 1st language • it’s never taught to them in school • 2nd language learners are never exposed to it, because 2nd language teachers don’t know about it, either • 2nd language learners acquire it nonetheless

  13. What are “unaccusative” verbs? • the unfortunate name stems from Perlmutter (1977), who first discussed the phenomenon • unaccusatives are intransitive verbs • whose subject is the undergoer (also called “patient” or “theme”) rather than the agent of the action

  14. unergative verbs subject is AGENT She left. She lay down. She hid. unaccusative verbs subject is UNDERGOER She arrived. She fell. She disappeared. Two types of intransitive verbs

  15. Some unaccusative verbs have transitive counterparts • transitive form: The heat melted the butter. • unaccusative form: The butter melted. • transitive form: The children broke the vase. • unaccusative form: The vase broke.

  16. Some unaccusative verbs have transitive counterparts • transitive form: The heat meltedthe butter. • unaccusative form: The buttermelted. • transitive form: The children brokethe vase. • unaccusative form: The vasebroke.

  17. She arrived. She fell. She disappeared. *arriver *faller *disappearer Tests for unaccusativity: agentive -er suffixation in English

  18. Tests for unaccusativity • Italian: auxiliary selection in passato prossimo (Lei) è arrivata / caduta / sparita. she is arrived fallen disappeared *ha arrivata / caduta / sparita. has arrived fallen disappeared

  19. Tests for unaccusativity • Italian passive and reflexive verbs also take essere (‘to be’) as auxiliary in passato prossimo • This means that all undergoer subjects take essere as auxiliary in Italian passato prossimo

  20. Tests for unaccusativity Of all the Romance languages, • Italian has best retained the Latin distinction between esse and habere, • French has retained it to some degree but lost other parts of it, • while the other Romance languages have lost it altogether

  21. Tests for unaccusativity • German and Dutch make very similar distinctions in the perfect tenses (e.g. Sie ist hingefallen in German) • The distinction used to exist in English, but now is found only in archaic usage (e.g. Christian hymns) – “Joy to the world, the Lord is come” – “Alleluia, He is risen”

  22. Another appeal for the inclusion of linguistic knowledge in L2 teaching • Consider how torturous it is using traditional grammar to explain which verbs take ‘be’ as auxiliary in perfect tenses of European languages, • and then consider how much easier your life might be in this regard if you referred to the L2 literature on unaccusative verbs (Sorace 1993a)

  23. Tests for unaccusativity Italian: ne-cliticization • transitive verbs: Mario ha letto molte lettere Mario has read many letters Mario ne ha letto molte Mario of=them has read many

  24. Tests for unaccusativity Italian: ne-cliticization • intransitive (unergative) verbs: Hanno lavorato molte persone have worked many persons *Ne hanno lavorato molte of=them have worked many

  25. Tests for unaccusativity Italian: ne-cliticization • intransitive (unaccusative) verbs: Sono arrivate molte persone are arrived many persons Ne sono arrivate molte of=them are arrived many

  26. Tests for unaccusativity Italian: ne-cliticization • transitive verbs: Mario ha letto molte lettere Mario has read many letters Mario ne ha letto molte Mario of=them has read many

  27. Generalizations from our tests • English unaccusatives do not allow agentive -er suffixation because they do not take agent arguments • only verbs with undergoer subjects (unaccusative, passive, and reflexive) take essereas auxiliary in Italian • only verbs with undergoer arguments (i.e. transitive objects & unaccusative subjects) allow Italian ne-cliticization

  28. Preliminary conclusions • Unaccusative verbs have undergoer subjects • Remarkably enough, L2 learners unconsciously seem to pick up on this

  29. The unaccusative hierarchy (Sorace 1993a/2000) • change of location [selectsBE] • change of state/condition • continuation of a pre-existing state • existence of state/condition • change of state-transitive counterpart • uncontrolled process • controlled process (motional) • controlled process (non-motional) [selectsHAVE ]

  30. The unaccusative hierarchy (Sorace 2000) • arrive, fall [selectsBE] • change of state/condition • continuation of a pre-existing state • existence of state/condition • change of state-transitive counterpart • uncontrolled process • controlled process (motional) • controlled process (non-motional) [selectsHAVE ]

  31. The unaccusative hierarchy (Sorace 2000) • arrive, fall [selectsBE] • become, disappear, die • continuation of a pre-existing state • existence of state/condition • change of state-transitive counterpart • uncontrolled process • controlled process (motional) • controlled process (non-motional) [selectsHAVE ]

  32. The unaccusative hierarchy (Sorace 2000) • arrive, fall [selectsBE] • become, disappear, die • stay, remain • existence of state/condition • change of state-transitive counterpart • uncontrolled process • controlled process (motional) • controlled process (non-motional) [selectsHAVE ]

  33. The unaccusative hierarchy (Sorace 2000) • arrive, fall [selectsBE] • become, disappear, die • stay, remain • be, seem • change of state-transitive counterpart • uncontrolled process • controlled process (motional) • controlled process (non-motional) [selectsHAVE ]

  34. The unaccusative hierarchy (Sorace 2000) • arrive, fall [selectsBE] • become, disappear, die • stay, remain • be, seem • break, melt, sink • uncontrolled process • controlled process (motional) • controlled process (non-motional) [selectsHAVE ]

  35. The unaccusative hierarchy (Sorace 2000) • arrive, fall [selectsBE] • become, disappear, die • stay, remain • be, seem • break, melt, sink • blush, tremble, shine • controlled process (motional) • controlled process (non-motional) [selectsHAVE ]

  36. The unaccusative hierarchy (Sorace 2000) • arrive, fall [selectsBE] • become, disappear, die • stay, remain • be, seem • break, melt, sink • blush, tremble, shine • run, dance, swim • controlled process (non-motional) [selectsHAVE ]

  37. The unaccusative hierarchy (Sorace 2000) • arrive, fall [selectsBE] • become, disappear, die • stay, remain • be, seem • break, melt, sink • blush, tremble, shine • run, dance, swim • talk, work [selectsHAVE ]

  38. The unaccusative hierarchy(Sorace 1993a) “The hierarchy embodies the fact that the notion of dynamic change, whose most concrete manifestation is change of location, is at the root of unaccusativity, and identifies verbs of directed motion as core cases for essere/être-selection.” (Sorace 1993a: 81)

  39. L2 sensitivity to semantic aspects of unaccusativity (Sorace 1993b) • Subjects – English/French near-native speakers of Italian in Italy, no Italian origins – began learning after age 15 (18-27), average 9 years of exposure (5-15) • Materials and Procedure – acceptability judgements on auxiliary selection with unaccusative verbs

  40. L2 sensitivity to semantic aspects of unaccusativity (Sorace 1993b)

  41. L2 sensitivity to semantic aspects of unaccusativity (Sorace 1993b) • L2 speakers were sensitive to unaccusative hierarchy categories • Only native speakers had significantly different judgements between the two auxiliaries in every category • L2 speakers had significantly different judgements between auxiliaries only at the high end of the hierarchy (two highest categories)

  42. L2 sensitivity to semantic aspects of unaccusativity (Sorace 1993b)

  43. L2 sensitivity to unaccusativity • L2 learners are sensitive to the unaccusative hierarchy and the semantic distinctions between verb subtypes that it represents • Is this only because these are highly advanced, near-native learners?

  44. Is there any evidence for a U-shaped learning curve in L2A? • L2 learners passivize unaccusatives *He was arrived early. *My mother was died when I was just a baby. *This problem is existed for many years. *Most of people are fallen in love and marry with somebody.

  45. Unaccusative passivization errors (Oshita 1998/2000)

  46. Unaccusative passivization errors(Oshita 1998/2000)

  47. Is there any evidence for a U-shaped learning curve in L2A? • Learners are never exposed to these errors in input from native speakers • They occur in the output of ESL students of diverse L1 backgrounds • They appear only at advanced or high intermediate levels of L2 instruction • Even at this level, L2 usage of unaccusatives is 90% error-free

  48. Why these particular errors? • Recall that unaccusative verbs pattern with passive verbs in Italian with regard to auxiliary selection, as both have undergoer subjects • Passive verbs in English also have undergoer subjects, and require passive verbal morphology

  49. Why these particular errors?

  50. Why these particular errors?