Learnability and the Lexicon

Theories and second language acquisition research

ORCID logoAlan Juffs | University of Pittsburgh
ISBN 9789027224781 (Eur) | EUR 105.00
ISBN 9781556197758 (USA) | USD 158.00
ISBN 9789027285645 | EUR 105.00 | USD 158.00
Google Play logo
This book provides a critical review of recent theories of semantics-syntax correspondences and makes new proposals for constraints on semantic structure relevant to syntax. Data from several languages are presented which suggest that semantic structure in root morphemes is subject to parametric variation which has effect across a variety of verb classes, including locatives, unaccusatives, and psych verbs.

The implications for first and second language acquisition are discussed. In particular, it is suggested that different parametric settings may lead to a learnability problem if adult learners do not retain access to sensitivity to underlying semantic organization and morphological differences between languages provided by Universal Grammar.

An experiment with Chinese-speaking learners of English is presented which shows that learners initially transfer L1 semantic organization to the L2, but are able to retreat from overgeneralisations and achieve native-like grammars in this area.

Suggestions for further research in this rapidly developing area of theory and acquisition research are also made.

Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
“This book is the first and so far most comprehensive study of the acquisition of argument structure in a second language within a generative framework. It is a fascinating window into the cognitive processes of L2 acquisition. It should find a place on the shelves of anyone interested in the relationship between linguistics and language acquisition.”
Cited by

Cited by 32 other publications

Boping Yuan & Yang Zhao
2011. Asymmetric syntactic and thematic reconfigurations in English speakers’ L2 Chinese resultative compound constructions. International Journal of Bilingualism 15:1  pp. 38 ff. DOI logo
Bordag, Denisa, Amit Kirschenbaum, Andreas Opitz, Maria Rogahn & Erwin Tschirner
2016. INCIDENTAL ACQUISITION OF GRAMMATICAL FEATURES DURING READING IN L1 AND L2. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 38:3  pp. 445 ff. DOI logo
Chan, Alice Y. W.
2004. Syntactic Transfer: Evidence from the Interlanguage of Hong Kong Chinese ESL Learners. The Modern Language Journal 88:1  pp. 56 ff. DOI logo
Dekydtspotter, Laurent & Hyun-Kyoung Seo
2017. TRANSITIVITY IN THE PROCESSING OF INTRANSITIVE CLAUSES. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 39:3  pp. 527 ff. DOI logo
Gabriele, Alison
2009. TRANSFER AND TRANSITION IN THE SLA OF ASPECT. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 31:3  pp. 371 ff. DOI logo
Gonçalves, Perpétua
2018. Chapter 2. Research on L2 varieties of European languages. In The Portuguese Language Continuum in Africa and Brazil [Issues in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics, 20],  pp. 43 ff. DOI logo
Gruhn, Mirja & Nina Reshöft
2014. Getting Closer to Native Speaker Competence: How Psycholinguistic Experiments Can Enrich Language Learning and Teaching. In Classroom-oriented Research [Second Language Learning and Teaching, ],  pp. 203 ff. DOI logo
Grüter, Theres, Moti Lieberman & Andrea Gualmini
2010. Acquiring the Scope of Disjunction and Negation in L2: A Bidirectional Study of Learners of Japanese and English. Language Acquisition 17:3  pp. 127 ff. DOI logo
Hall, Christopher J., Denise Newbrand, Peter Ecke, Ulrike Sperr, Vanessa Marchand & Lisa Hayes
2009. Learners' Implicit Assumptions About Syntactic Frames in New L3 Words: The Role of Cognates, Typological Proximity, and L2 Status. Language Learning 59:1  pp. 153 ff. DOI logo
Juffs, Alan
1998. Some effects of first language argument structure and morphosyntax on second language sentence processing. Second Language Research 14:4  pp. 406 ff. DOI logo
Juffs, Alan
1998. The acquisition of semantics-syntax correspondences and verb frequencies in ESL materials. Language Teaching Research 2:2  pp. 93 ff. DOI logo
Juffs, Alan & Shaohua Fang
2022. A Generative Approach to the Instructed Second Language Acquisition of Spanish se. Language Learning 72:S1  pp. 83 ff. DOI logo
Juffs, Alan & Michael Harrington
1996. Garden Path Sentences and Error Data in Second Language Sentence Processing. Language Learning 46:2  pp. 283 ff. DOI logo
Lardiere, Donna
2003. Revisiting the comparative fallacy: a reply to Lakshmanan and Selinker, 2001. Second Language Research 19:2  pp. 129 ff. DOI logo
Montrul, Silvina
1999. Causative errors with unaccusative verbs in L2 Spanish. Second Language Research 15:2  pp. 191 ff. DOI logo
Montrul, Silvina
2001. The Acquisition of Causative/Inchoative Verbs in L2 Turkish. Language Acquisition 9:1  pp. 1 ff. DOI logo
Montrul, Silvina
2001. First-language-constrained variability in the second-language acquisition of argument-structure-changing morphology with causative verbs. Second Language Research 17:2  pp. 144 ff. DOI logo
Montrul, Silvina A.
Nagano, Tomonori
2015.  Acquisition of English verb transitivity by native speakers of Japanese . Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism 5:3  pp. 322 ff. DOI logo
Nishi, Yumiko & Yasuhiro Shirai
2021. Verb learning and the acquisition of aspect. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism 11:3  pp. 323 ff. DOI logo
Oshita, Hiroyuki
2000. What is happened may not be what appears to be happening: a corpus study of ‘passive’ unaccusatives in L2 English. Second Language Research 16:4  pp. 293 ff. DOI logo
SHKURENKO, Anastasiia & Filiz CELE
2022. L2 acquisition of Russian aspect by L1 Turkish speakers. RumeliDE Dil ve Edebiyat Araştırmaları Dergisi :31  pp. 1561 ff. DOI logo
Singh, Michael
2013. Worldly Critical Theorizing in Euro-American Centered Teacher Education? Preparing Bilingual Teacher-Researcher Theorists for the Twenty-First Century. In Preparing Teachers for the 21st Century [New Frontiers of Educational Research, ],  pp. 141 ff. DOI logo
Slabakova, Roumyana
1999. The parameter of aspect in second language acquisition. Second Language Research 15:3  pp. 283 ff. DOI logo
Slabakova, Roumyana
2013. Meaning in Second Language Spanish. In The Handbook of Spanish Second Language Acquisition,  pp. 311 ff. DOI logo
Stringer, David
2012. Spatial Feature Assembly in First and Second Language Acquisition. Spatial Cognition & Computation 12:4  pp. 252 ff. DOI logo
White, Lydia
2003. Second Language Acquisition and Universal Grammar, DOI logo
Wu, Shiyu, Dilin Liu & Zan Li
2023. Testing the Bottleneck Hypothesis: Chinese EFL learners’ knowledge of morphology and syntax across proficiency levels. Second Language Research 39:4  pp. 1191 ff. DOI logo
Yang, Charles & Silvina Montrul
2017. Learning datives: The Tolerance Principle in monolingual and bilingual acquisition. Second Language Research 33:1  pp. 119 ff. DOI logo
2015. Animacy hierarchy effects on the second language acquisition of attributive psych adjectives. Applied Psycholinguistics 36:2  pp. 275 ff. DOI logo
Zhang, Xiaopeng
2017. Second Language Users’ Restriction of Linguistic Generalization Errors: The Case of English Un– Prefixation Development. Language Learning 67:3  pp. 569 ff. DOI logo
Zyzik, Eve
2014. Causative verbs in the grammar of Spanish heritage speakers. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism 4:1  pp. 1 ff. DOI logo

This list is based on CrossRef data as of 16 march 2024. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.


Main BIC Subject

CF: Linguistics

Main BISAC Subject

LAN009000: LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
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U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  96000855 | Marc record