Edited by Anna Ghimenton, Aurélie Nardy and Jean-Pierre Chevrot
[Studies in Language Variation 26] 2021
► pp. 185–198
This chapter addresses the issue of how the L2 speaker acquires the probabilistic grammar of another language. This implies the related, wider question of whether, as humans, we have some innate knowledge of probabilities and what form such knowledge takes for L2 speakers. The issue is addressed by the description of two studies which provide cross linguistic evidence in relation to one first language group (Polish speakers) and two second languages, (French and Irish English), and which also involve two types of variables, one stable (ne deletion in French) and one in-coming (discourse like in Irish English). Variationist data from these studies suggest that L2 speakers acquire both universal influenced language elements as well as socially conditioned ones and that they approximate both L1 rates and constraint ordering. The chapter links this account of one approach to research on SLA and sociolinguistics with others represented by the contributions which follow in the second section of the volume. These cover a range of areas in variation and L2 acquisition in adults: the acquisition of the categorical vs the probabilistic, the relationship of language change and L2 acquisition, adult dialect acquisition, sociolinguistic competence and Study Abroad,and L2 acquisition and code switching.