ERIC Number: ED177896
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1977-Jun
Reference Count: 0
Early Syntactic Development in First and Second Language Acquisition.
Felix, Sascha W.
Research indicates that first (L1) and second language (L2) acquisition involve some of the same processes, yet L2 learners apparently acquire the structures of the target language in a systematic way by passing through a sequence of developmental stages. This study shows that in the earliest stages of syntactic development the L2 learner's linguistic competence is fundamentally different from that attributed to a child acquiring his native language. It is argued that L1 learners construct their earliest multi-word utterances on the basis of the conceptual properties underlying lexical items until they discover the syntactic principle of natural languages. In contrast, L2 learners will skip the pre-syntactic stages of L1 development because they are familiar with the syntactic principle through L1 experience. Data from two children, aged 7 and 5 years, who are acquiring German in a natural environment, corroborate the hypothesis. The data show that the L2 learners acquired the different types of sentences successively, and that they used one specific word order pattern for each grammatical relation. This pattern could always be matched with corresponding structures of the adult language. It seems that because the L2 learner already knows the syntactic principle of language, only those utternaces will occur which reflect syntactic properties of the target language. (AMH)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Los Angeles Second Language Research Forum (1st, Los Angeles, CA, February 11-13, 1977)