GRS LX 700

Language Acquisition
Linguistic Theory
Week 13.
Models, input, intake, attrition

The Monitor Hypothesis

A linguistic expression originates in the
system of acquired knowledge, but prior
to output a “Monitor” checks it against
consciously known rules and may modify
the expression before it is uttered.
(the Monitor)


What makes input into intake?

Apperception: Recognizing the gap between what L2’er
knows and what there is to know.
Comprehensibility: Either the semantic meaning is
determinable or the relevant structural aspects are
Attention: Selecting aspects of the knowledge to be
learned (from among many other possible things) for
Output: Forcing a structural hypothesis, elsewhere used
to shape input into a form useful for intake.

Input  apperception

Some input is apperceived, some isn’t.
That which isn’t is thought of as blocked by
various “filters”:
Time pressure
 Frequency non-extremes
 Affective (status, motivation, attitude, …)
 Prior knowledge (grounding, analyzability)
 Salience (drawing attention)

Note: Much of the following discussion is probably more about learning than acquisition. meaning is a precursor to being able to assign a syntactic representation).Apperception  comprehension    Modification of speech to learner (“foreigner talk”) Redundancy Negotiation for meaning   (often. . “L2A” of C++. Cf.

Foreigner talk  Like the better-known phenomenon of “baby talk”. it also turns out that people conversing with others whom they perceive to be non-native speakers (NNSs) will often use a form of “foreigner talk”— modified language forms presumably intended to simplify the utterance. .

new information to the end of the sentence More repetition. simple sentences Moving topics to the front of the sentence.Foreigner talk          Slower. fewer idioms Providing more definitions Less elliptical More gestures Short. restatements. Recasting NNS’s incorrect statements . clearer articulation Higher frequency vocabulary.

. The adjustments often happen in the face of an evident lack of comprehension. there are many different ways that sentences are “simplified”.Foreigner talk   The ways in which this happens varies a lot—where it happens at all.

Foreigner talk     NNS: How have increasing food costs changed your eating habits? NS: Well. . NNS: Pardon me? NS: I don’t think it’s changed my eating habits. I try to adjust. I don’t know that it’s changed them.

.Foreigner talk     NNS: How have increasing food costs changed your eating habits? NS: Oh. Gone to cheaper foods. rising costs… we’ve cut back on the more expensive things. NNS: Pardon me? NS: We’ve gone to cheaper foods.

NS is trying to guess its identity.   NS: Ok. yours! Okay! Yours is it for eat? NNS: Eat. little guy! Yeah.  Basil: It’s not fire. which is probably of dubious value both for comprehension and learning. it’s only bell.  NNS has an object from a grab-bag. No.Foreigner talk  The “simplification” sometimes even sacrifices grammaticality. .

NS: Nothing? C: No. is the new one a good one? A: Um? NS: Is a good President? Do you like him? No? NS: Does she speak English? C: No.Foreigner talk          A: Yesterday my country change. NS: Oh yeah? Now. President. NS: She doesn’t talk? Always quiet? No talk? . ah.

Once there is understanding. this appears to be in service of comprehension—done in order to make linguistically less sophisticated interlocutors able to understand.Comprehension   In general. . we also are ready for there to be intake of the input as well.

comprehension has been achieved. .“Backchannel cues”  L2’ers often foil this process by providing “backchannel cues” which indicate to the NS that communication is proceeding. “Smile and nod”.

We don’t work on Sonys. Or Sylvania. That’s American made.          NNS is trying to buy a TV.I’d like to buy a TV. OK. OK. … Ah Sony please. Sylvania? Uh huh. Oh. but accidentally called a repair shop. . Sylvania.

Portables have to be brought in. And there’s no way I can tell you how much it’ll cost until he looks at it.50 for his time and effort. . Hm hm. Hm hm. OK.         All right. And it’s a $12. And if he can fix it that applies to labor and if he can’t he keeps the $12. Hm hm.I’d like to buy a TV.50 deposit.

The only thing you can do is bring it in and let him look at it and go from there.I’d like to buy a TV. . How old of a TV is it? Is it a very old one or only a couple years old? Oh. New television please.       How old of a TV is it? Do you know off hand? 19 inch. so so.

some of which have nothing to do with the structure. this kind of comprehension may be unhelpful. the listener can come quite close to understanding the meaning without having any kind of syntactic analysis for it. If learning the structure of the target language is considered to be the ultimate goal. . and assuming speaker will make sense.   With some knowledge of the situation. provide given and new information appropriately.Comprehension vs. output  Comprehension can come in various ways. be relevant. be cooperative.

Output viewed this way could be a way of creating grammatical knowledge (not just using pre-existing knowledge)—forcing an analysis where there was not one before. however. output   No such crutches are available for production.Comprehension vs. . you’ll need to choose a syntax. If you’re going to say something in the target language.

Additionally.Output and negative evidence   Of course. output will give the L2’er practice. output provides an opportunity for negative evidence. correction from the outside. . allow for the “automation” of certain things allowing attention to shift elsewhere.

the conversation takes a detour to repair the problem.Negotiating for meaning  Very often a NS-NNS (or NNS-NNS) conversation will involve a fair amount of negotiating for meaning—where understanding has not happened. .

Yes.Negotiating for meaning          (S) Had to declare—declare?—her ingress. . If for example. I N G R E S S more or less. Ingless. if you. when you work you had an ingress. Ingless? Ingress. Yes. (J) English? No. English no (laugh)… ingress.. her ingress. you know? Uh huh an ingless? Yes.

your homna. And your family have some ingress. My father work there. More or less ok? And in this institution take care of all ingress of the company and review the accounts. but now he is old. Aaaah. Yes. when end the month his job. . Ok I got. ah. Ok. his boss pay—mm— him something. when finish. ok ok. if for example.Negotiating for meaning         Uh huh OK Yes. husband works. I see.

Pre-empting negotiation   In the category of “foreigner talk” we might also include these… Lots of comprehension/confirmation checks and clarification requests:      I was born in Nagasaki. Do you know Nagasaki? And your family have some ingress…more or less ok? (When can you go to visit me?) Visit? (…research). I don’t know the meaning. Questions often come with suggested responses  When do you take the break? At ten-thirty? . Research.

and output in productively trying to solve a current language deficiency. prompting negotiation for meaning and providing possible intake data. selective attention.Healthy miscommunication   A failure to communicate can serve to focus attention on areas where the NNS’s grammar is non-native-like. existing knowledge. . Michael Long’s “Interaction Hypothesis” is that this kind of negotiation for meaning and resulting attention is necessary for advancement toward the grammar of the target grammar—in part because it connects input.

incorporating it into his/her grammar. a learner produces an ungrammatical sentences. focusing attention on the problem area. feedback isn’t everything  Ideally. . gets negative feedback indicating that there is a problem (those involved in the conversation negotiate for meaning). and the learner takes input bearing on this as intake.Still.

feedback isn’t everything    Problem is.Still. First: Not all incorrect forms get corrected (e. if the hearer understood). such evidence is not very consistent—it might be helpful when it happens. if at all… ..g. but it’s hard to be sure when it is happening. Second: Errors leading to misunderstanding might not be revealed until quite a bit later.

NNS: One hour a day? NS: Yes. I’m going to sleep for one whole day. NNS: Why? NS: Because I’m so tired. I’m so tired.Still. …enduring silence… . feedback isn’t everything         NS: When I get to Paris. NNS: What? NS: I’m going to sleep for one whole day.

Still. feedback isn’t everything  Moreover. how is this useful feedback?  NS: Did you fly to Singapore yesterday? NNS: Did I flied here yesterday? NS: Pardon? NNS: Did I flied here yesterday?     How does this help fix the problem? .

ah. NS: A bookshelf?       NNS: He pass his house NS: Sorry? NNS: He passed. feedback isn’t everything  Sometimes it works…  NNS: There is a library. his sign. . he passed. NS: A what? NNS: A place where you put books.Still.

Interaction does seem to help. feedback isn’t everything   Feedback (“negative evidence”) is just too inconsistent to be reliable—to really be the whole story about how people learn a second language.Still. though. for whatever reason… .

. Tasks (designed to spark questions)  Story completion   Picture sequencing   Discovering the order of a picture story Picture differences   Working out a story by asking questions Identifying the differences between similar pictures Picture drawing  Describing or drawing a picture.Mackey 1999   Looked at question formation in ESL speakers.

Pic seq. Pic seq.Mackey 1999: Procedure Test / Wk Day treatment 1 1 Pretest 1 2 Treat 1 1 3 Treat 2 1 4 Treat 3 1 2 5 5 Posttest 1 Posttest 1 Activity Pic diff Story compl. Pic draw Pic diff Pic diff 3 5 Posttest 1 Pic diff Examples 3 1 each 3 1 each 1 each 3 3 . Pic draw Story compl. Pic seq. Pic draw Story compl.

inversion)   What the cat doing in your picture? 4: Inversion (auxiliaries not do)   Your cat is black? Why have you left home? 6: Uninverted in embedded clauses  Can you tell me where the cat is? .Measure of development using question formation  2: SVO?   3: Fronting Wh/Do   Have you drawn the cat? 5: Do/Aux-second (wh-front.

answer comprehension questions afterwards. leaving very little room for communication breakdown. Scripteds   Natural interaction.Mackey 1999: subject groups  Interactors   Interactor unreadies   Watch interactionally modified input. Controls . but low development measure Observers   Natural interaction Premodified (scripted) input.

The color is green. Can you draw it? NNS: Ok ok I got it. Now on the right of the pear draw an umbrella. Look like apple (draws) NS: Good. Draw the pear under the book.Mackey 1999     Scripted (premodified) group NS: and now under it draw a pear. . It is like an apple. A pear is a fruit.

it’s a fruit. pears are fruit. narrow on top. juicy like an apple NNS: Ok pear. fruit like Japanese fruit nashi very delicious.Mackey 1999        Interactor groups NS: Underneath it is a pear. I had a pear in my lunch (time) not…juicy? (draws) Like this? . Have you eaten one here in Australia? NNS: Yes thank you. You saw this in Japan? Have you eat one? NS: Yeah I did but a nashi is round yeah? Pears are round on the bottom. it’s green NNS: What is it a bear? NS: A pear.

average 1. 27 classified as lower-intermediate.Mackey 1999  Looking at whether different groups moved up a developmental stage. about 6 months in residence overall.    Must produce at least 2 higher-level questions in 2 of the 3 post-tests to have “moved up a stage” Private ESL school in Australia. .7 mo. 7 classified as beginners (the interactor unreadies). in residence.

Mackey 1999: % people moved up a stage 100 86 90 80 70 % of participants who increased 71 57 60 50 40 30 16 20 14 10 0 Interactor (5/7) Control (1/7) Interactor Unready (6/7) S cripted (1/6) Observer (4/7) .

scripted. observer) .Interactors significantly more likely to move up 50 % who increased 45 40 35 33 30 25 17 20 15 10 5 0 Interactors (both types) Non-interactors (control.

Mackey 1999: Increase in stage 4 & 5 questions in posttests 8 7 6 5 4 Interactor Control Observers Scripted Unreadies 3 2 1 0 T1 T2 T3 .

Yet—should advancing stage be the real goal? In that. . the observers also benefited.Mackey 1999   Mackey claims that her study shows that the interactors have a significant advantage over the non-interactors. based on the previous graph (production of high-stage questions).

the numbers of highstage questions had continued to grow. . Suggests perhaps that this had focused attention on areas that needed work.Mackey 1999    Delayed benefit— Interestingly in the latest posttest (2 weeks after the treatment). but the grammatical changes were not implemented immediately.

Input. converting input into intake. How can we connect them? . interaction… UG?  UG hasn’t played a very big role in the discussion of the importance of interaction. negotiating for meaning.

Coming before adverbs and coming before negation are a cluster of properties tied to the single verbraising parameter. which means it appears before adverbs and before negation.  It’s not just that the verb appears before adverbs—it is that the verb moves into the tense position.Parameters. triggers  Recall that one of the crucial features of parameters is that (ideally) each parameter setting has a cluster of effects. .

. triggers  In order to set a parameter in the way which matches the setting reflected by the language in the environment.Parameters.  Designated bits of data which can serve as unambiguous indicators of one parameter setting over another are sometimes called triggers. the learner needs to look for consequences of a particular setting.

Parameters. . triggers  So. for example. not likely to show up in frequent (or easily analyzed) ambient speech data accessible to the kid. This might make it hard to set one’s parameters—but for the clustering property. the L1’er’s task is to examine the input for instances of these triggers and use them to set the parameter to the correct value.  Some of the consequences of any given parameter setting might be fairly obscure.

Parameters. Indications that null subjects are not allowed:  Expletive subjects are observed (it’s raining). triggers  Indications that the verb moves:    Indications that the verb doesn’t move:   Do-support (The verb does not usually move) Indications that null subjects are allowed:    Seeing verbs before negation Seeing verbs before adverbs Null subjects are observed. Postverbal subjects are allowed. .

 Unfortunately. then the interaction stuff is probably about making the triggers more salient. . triggers  If triggers are what setting parameters is all about. nontriggers?) salient had. what effect making triggers (vs. it is difficult to interpret existing “input enhancement” type studies in these terms because they measured different things—we don’t know what triggers were present.Parameters.

important (to L2A anyway)? This suggests that the triggers are in the “incomprehensible” input. etc. that needs to be elaborated on in order to be used as intake (and thus to set the parameter).Parameters. why is it so hard then? Why is negotiation. . triggers  If language acquisition (first or second) were just about finding triggers to set the parameters.

the parameters approach makes “ungrammatical foreigner talk” even more problematic. Subjects are left out.Ungrammatical FT  Incidentally. Auxiliary do is regularly omitted. What if those were triggers? .  Consider: In foreigner talk…     The pronoun it is pervasively omitted.

Modularity (Schwartz 1999)  Fodor (1983) proposed that the mind comes in “modules”:          Domain specificity Information encapsulation Mandatory operation Speed Limited accessibility to consciousness Shallow outputs Regularity of development Fixed neural architecture Characteristic patterns of breakdown .

Modularity   Vision is always good to compare to language. There could be a language module. and it has many properties that linguists often attribute to language. . since there is fairly uncontroversially a vision module. it has a similar level of complexity.

Vision  Optical illusions— you can’t help but see them. .

Vision  Optical illusions— you can’t help but see them. (movies by Yaer Weiss & Edward Adelson) .

Krashen’s learned/acquired distinction might be right.  Learning that the lines are the same length or that the checkers are the same color doesn’t help.  .  Language knowledge of the sort we’re interested in may well have these same properties.Modularity  The points about these visual illusions are: The processing involved in vision is quite complex.  It is also completely unconscious.

personality. prior knowledge. situation. but to some extent justified. affect. attention.A model of L2A? Linguistic input Apperceived input Perhaps comically complex. monitoring. processing L1 Linguistic output . processing Storage Hypothesis testing against current grammar Ignorage Grammar modification Grammar strengthening UG Integration Discourse planning Cultural knowledge Utterance planning Learned Interlanguage grammar Acquired Mode (oral/written). LAD Prior linguistic knowledge Comprehended input Intake  Linguistic input Frequency.

and implemented as acquired (UGcompliant. filtered by UG.Integrated model?   This is the part considered to represent L1A. parametric) knowledge. PLD LAD UG L1 acquired . PLD is processed by the LAD.

cutting off this avenue of acquisition. UG L1 acquired . it would probably be the LAD.Integrated model?  PLD LAD If something suffers from passing the critical period.

. UG IL acquired L1 . etc. apperceived prior linguistic knowledge ? comprehensible input Integrated model?   To the extent that you can still get acquired knowledge in the IL. First filtered by attention. filtered by UG. it has to be in an appropriate form.PLD affective etc. and prior knowledge.

perhaps the ending point too.PLD affective etc. UG IL acquired L1 . apperceived prior linguistic knowledge ? comprehensible input Integrated model?  The L1 plays an important role in defining the acquired knowledge in the IL grammar. perhaps the starting point.

apperceived prior linguistic knowledge comprehended input hypothesis testing intake integration storage modification/strengthening IL learned . affecting the stored knowledge.PLD affective etc. Integrated model?  The learning part of L2A follows a general learning pattern: hypothesis testing.

 monitoring. personality. Discourse planning concerns intent Cultural knowledge concerns norms in expressing this intent. Utterance planning sets up the structure. situation. IL learned acquired Utterance planning Mode. processing linguistic output .Discourse planning Cultural knowledge Integrated model?     Creating output is fairly complex.

personality. Filters on the planned utterance involve the monitor and other output-relevant factors. monitoring. IL learned acquired Utterance planning Mode. processing linguistic output . situation.Discourse planning Cultural knowledge Integrated model?   Utterance structure is driven by the acquired knowledge.

Integrated model?   Does practice help convert learned knowledge into acquired knowledge? Perhaps. if the output can count as comprehensible input… UG IL learned acquired linguistic output .

Prisms and vision    The visual system can adjust itself (after the critical period). but they “get used to it” and soon don’t even notice anything unusual. even if it does seem for the most part “hardwired”. Perhaps the phenomenon of L1 attrition is something like this… . Fitting someone with prisms that change the angle of incoming visual stimuli causes initial visual confusion.

one will still “forget” how to use it after a period of non-use. it’s not very surprising—it’s like calculus. If L2 is a skill like calculus. While very common. we’d expect this. . having learned an L2 and having become quite proficient.and language attrition   It is a very common phenomenon that.

So how could it suffer attrition? What are you left with?  . uniformly successful… biologically driven. automatically sets the parameters in his/her head to match those exhibited by the linguistic input. skill in the L1 seems to go. fast. not learning in the normal sense of learning a skill.L1 attrition  Much more surprising is the fact that sometimes under the influence of a dominant L2.  Consider the UG/parameter model. L1 is effortless. a kid’s LAD faced with PLD.

but this is even more dramatic—it would seem to actually be altering the L1 settings. one can adapt the “parameter settings” in the new knowledge to the target settings (where they differ from the L1 settings). do attrited speakers seem to have changed parameter settings? .UG in L2A   We’ve looked at the questions concerning whether when learning a second language. It behooves us to look carefullier at this.

) (cf.   He’s thinking about with what they can play. He’s thinking about what they can play with. He doesn’t know who it belongs to.   (cf.) Hebrew doesn’t allow preposition stranding—the constraint against prepositions stranding seems to have been “back copied” .English Hebrew kid in Israel  He doesn’t know to who it belongs.

Hebrew English   Ma at midaberet al? The reverse situation is reported to hold as well. . here. a Hebrew sentence (ungrammatical to monolinguals) involving preposition stranding.

Italian English

Italian is a “null subject” language that allows
the subject to be dropped in most cases where in
English we’d use a pronoun

(Possible to use a pronoun in Italian, but it conveys
something pragmatic: contrastive focus or change in

English is a “non-null-subject” language that
does not allow the subject to be dropped out,
pronouns are required (even sometimes
“meaningless” like it or there). Not required that
a pronoun signal a change in topic.

Italian, null subjects

Q: Perchè Maria è uscite?
‘Why did M leave?’
A1: Lei ha deciso di fare una passeggiata.
A2: Ha deciso di fare une passenggiata.
‘She decided to take a walk.’
Monolingual Italian speaker would say A2,
but English-immersed native Italian
speaker will optionally produce (and
accept) A1. (Sorace 2000)

Greek too… (null subjects)

Q: Jati vjike i Maria?
‘Why did Maria go out?’
A1: Afti apofasise na pai mia volta.
A2: Apofasise na pai mia volta.
‘She decided to take a walk’

Reverse errors unattested

Q: Perchè Maria è uscite?
‘Why did Maria leave?’
A: *Perchè Ø è venuto a prederla.
‘Because (Gianni) came to pick her up.’
That is, they don’t forget how to use null
subjects so much as they broaden the
contexts in which they can use overt

A2: Ha starnutito Gianni. attrited speakers will produce/allow A1 as well. Native speakers would say A2 because of the narrow focus.Postverbal subjects     Q: Chi ha starnutito? ‘Who sneezed?’ A1: Gianni ha starnutito. .

.L1 attrition    It seems that the acceptability of overt pronouns (in the L1 “attriters”) broadens compared to their L1. Pronouns in a null subject language are marked— they are restricted to particular discourse contexts ([+topic shift]. the acceptability of null pronouns becomes more restricted. What seems to happen is that the pronouns revert to the unmarked case ([±topic shift] like in English). according to Sorace).

.L1 attrition   Same goes for postverbal subjects—it is a marked option for languages. and the L1 seems to be retreating to the unmarked. it seems to be not a question of grammaticality but a question of felicity. Like with pronouns.

Sorace notes that the observed cases of attrition of this sort seem to be the ones involved with discourse and pragmatics. not with fundamental grammatical settings. (The attrited Italian is still a null-subject language. for example—null subjects are still possible and used only in places where null subjects should be allowed). .L1 attrition   Certain areas of the L1 grammar are more susceptible to this kind of attrition then others.

but the discourse-pragmatic constraints seem to be somehow susceptible to high exposure to conflicting constraints in other languages. . we’re left with a not-entirelyinconsistent view of the world. Parameter settings in L1 appear to be safe.L1 attrition   So.

          .