ERIC Number: EJ794006
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jun
Reference Count: 190
The Dynamics of Second Language Emergence: Cycles of Language Use, Language Change, and Language Acquisition
Ellis, Nick C.
Modern Language Journal, v92 n2 p232-249 Sum 2008
This article outlines an emergentist account whereby the limited end-state typical of adult second language learners results from dynamic cycles of language use, language change, language perception, and language learning in the interactions of members of language communities. In summary, the major processes are: 1. "Usage leads to change": High frequency use of grammatical functors causes their phonological erosion and homonym; 2. "Change affects perception": Phonologically reduced cues are hard to perceive; 3. "Perception affects learning": Low salience cues are difficult to learn, as are homonymous/polysemous constructions because of the low contingency of their form-function association; 4. "Learning affects usage": (i) Where language is predominantly learned naturalistically by adults without any form focus, a typical result is a Basic Variety of interlanguage, low in grammatical complexity but communicatively effective. Because "usage leads to change," maximum contact languages learned naturalistically can thus simplify and lose grammatical intricacies. Alternatively, (ii) where there are efforts promoting formal accuracy, the attractor state of the Basic Variety can be escaped by means of dialectic forces, socially recruited, involving the dynamics of learner consciousness, form-focused attention, and explicit learning. Such influences promote language maintenance. Form, user, and use are inextricable.
Descriptors: Language Maintenance, Cues, Language Variation, Grammar, Second Language Learning, Language Usage, Adults, Metalinguistics, Interlanguage
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
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