Dr Paz Gonzalez Gonzalez, University Lecturer at the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics, is the guest speaker at this ACLC seminar 7 February 2020 from 16:15 until 17:30.
Language Variation Research Meets SLA Research in TAML2 Studies
L2 studies aim to an optimal description of how a target language is learnt, or how the interlanguage at a particular stadium looks like. One of the most studied factors which recently is receiving a lot of attention is the L1 (first language) of the learner; the L1 factor seems to have found its way as an essential factor to explain particular characteristics of interlanguage. So far this strong and crucial research line has cleared up many research questions in the TAML2 (Tense, Aspect and Modality in a second language) research field. However, the picture is much more complex than a learning progression from an L1 to a target L2. Both L1 and L2 are traditionally described as languages, or better said the standard varieties of a language. The actual realizations of the languages, the actual use of the particular linguistic phenomena, are the language varieties spoken in the world. It is a well-known fact that TAM representations contain a lot of variation. Both lines of research (SLA and variation) need to meet to achieve a more globalized answer to how L2 languages are learnt.
The focus of this innovative approach to SLA is entangling language variation and language acquisition in a globalized research study where not only language functions and uses but also variation representations are taken into account. My research questions is: what are the challenges language variation in both languages offer to SLA research, focusing on verbal inflexion, in particular TAML2 representations?
A concrete example is the variation in the use of the present perfect in both Germanic and Romance languages. Take Dutch as L1 and Spanish as L2. The rich variation in both languages will heavily influence the interlanguage of the learner. It is not the same if the variety to be learnt is European Spanish or Argentinian Spanish, it is not the same if the L1 learner speaks Dutch or Flemish. It may be the case that we can make ‘perfect learning couples’, and hypothesize that Flemish speakers would be more successful learning Argentinian Spanish and Dutch speakers European Spanish, based on a comparison of language varieties.
This critical analysis allows me to present a more globalized picture of the issues involving the acquisition of TAM in a second language with a heavy contribution of language variation as key factor. This particular example can be extrapolated (on the longer term) to include other Germanic and Romance languages, and other verbal forms (TAM).