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IRCS Report 95-20Tree Growth and Morphosyntactic Triggers in Adult SLA

By Anne Vainikka and Martha Young-scholten


In previous papers (Vainikka&Young Scholten, 1994 � in press a � and in press b), we proposed that in the acquisition of German, rst language learners { like second language learners { gradually build upasyntactic structure. That is they posit only lexical projections at rst, and then gradually posit the relevant functional projections. In this paper, we examine the role of triggers in second language acquisition. Speci cally, weask: given that in second language, as in rst language acquisition, syntactic projections gradually emerge, and given the notion that something 'becomes available ' in the input to trigger the reorganization of the L2 grammar, exactly what triggers second language development? We rst describe the gradual building up of syntactic structures { or tree growth { in each ofthe stages of L2 acquisition (as described in Vainikka (1993/4)). We then consider what might constitute the relevant triggers of each of the stages of both L1 and L2 acquisitions (seen below). We nd that the status of triggers in rst and second language acquisition di ers. We also observe that a number of learners in the ZISA studies (Clahsen & Muysken 1986) and in our LEXLEARN project in Dusseldorf appears to be fossilized. One might conclude that it is the di erent statu

Year: 1995
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