Paper Sla

Topics: Linguistics, Noam Chomsky, Universal grammar Pages: 11 (3539 words) Published: April 13, 2012

This paper will be concerned with characterizing and explaining the linguistic system that second language (L2) learners develop, considering in particular the extent to which underlying linguistic competence of L2 speakers is constrained by the same universal prinsiples that govern natural language in general. Following Chomsky, a particular perspective on linguistic universals wiil be adopted and certain assumption about the nature of linguistic competence of native speakers of language can be accounted for in terms of an abstract and unconscious linguistic system, in other woord, a grammar, which underlies use of language, including comprehension and production. Native speakers grammars are constrained by built in universal linguistic principles, known as Universal Grammar (UG).

The purposes from this paper are :
1. Explaining the meaning of UG
2. Explaining Principle and Parameter
3. Explaining UG and SLA


According to Muriel Saville-Troike (2006), that Universal Grammar (UG) continues the tradition which Chomsky intro-duced in his earlier work. Two concepts in particular are still of central importance: (1) What needs to be accounted for in language acquisition is linguistic competence, or speaker-hearers’ underlying knowledge of language. This is distinguished from linguistic performance, or speaker-hear-ers’ actual use of language in specific instances. (2) Such knowledge of language goes beyond what could be learned from the input people receive. This is the logical problem of language learning, or the poverty-of-the stimulus argument.

Chomsky and his followers have claimed since the 1950s that the nature of speaker-hearers’ competence in their native language can be accounted for only by innate knowledge that the human species is genetically endowed with. They argue that children (at least) come to the task of acquiring a specific language already possessing general knowledge of what all languages have in common, including constraints on how any natural language can be structured. This innate knowledge is in what Chomsky calls the language faculty, which is “a component of the human mind, physically represented in the brain and part of the biological endowment of the species” (Chomsky 2002:1). What all languages have in common is Universal Grammar.

If a language faculty indeed exists, it is a potential solution to the “log-ical problem” because its existence would mean that children already have a rich system of linguistic knowledge which they bring to the task of L1 learning. They wouldn’t need to learn this underlying system, but only build upon it “on the basis of other inner resources activated by a limited and fragmentary linguistic experience” (Chomsky 2002:8). In other words, while children’s acquisition of the specific language that is spoken by their parents and others in their social setting requires input in that lan-guage, the acquisition task is possible (and almost invariably successful) because of children’s built-in capacity. One of the most important issues in a UG approach to the study of SLA has been whether this innate resource is still available to individuals who are acquiring additional lan-guages beyond the age of early childhood.

Until the late 1970s, followers of this approach assumed that the lan-guage acquisition task involves children’s induction of a system of rules for particular languages from the input they receive, guided by UG. How this could happen remained quite mysterious. (Linguistic input goes into a “black box” in the mind, something happens, and the grammatical sys-tem of a particular language comes out.) A major change in thinking about the acquisition process occurred with Chomsky’s (1981) reconcep-tualization of UG in a Principles and Parameters framework (often called the...

References: Troike,Muriel Saville. 2006. Introducing Second Language Acquisition. Cambridgde: Cambridge Univ. Press
White, Lydia. 2003. Second Language Acquisition and Universal Grammar. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.
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