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Title:Universal Grammar and the Subset Principle in second language acquisition: The acquisition of the Governing Category Parameter by adult Korean learners of English
Author(s):Cho, Seikyung
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Maclay, Howard S.
Department / Program:Linguistics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Language and Literature
Language, Linguistics
Abstract:This study investigates the effects of Universal Grammar and the Subset Principle in second language acquisition. The phenomenon investigated was the acquisition of English reflexives by adult Korean learners of English. Wexler and Manzini (1987) propose the Governing Category Parameter for which five different values have been posited to account for the differences in languages with respect to the binding pattern of reflexives. According to this proposal, English represents the narrowest (unmarked) value and Korean represents the widest (marked) one. Thus, by inspecting how Korean learners acquire English reflexives, we can address the issue of the availability of the Subset Principle in second language acquisition. This investigation also answers the question of what type of value of the parameter second language learners choose: the transfer of the L1 value, the acquisition of the correct L2 value, or the choice of an intermediate value which is distinct from both L1 and L2.
Four different types of tests were administered to Korean learners of English: a grammaticality judgment task, a preference task, a reading comprehension test, and a sentence-picture matching test. Results from these tests indicate that the Subset Principle is not available to adult second language learners suggested by the misinterpretations about the binding pattern of English reflexives by less-advanced subjects. However, the successful acquisition of English reflexives by more-advanced subjects suggests that the resetting of a parameter is possible in second language acquisition even in the absence of relevant positive evidence. To account for this, I suggest that the application of the subtle solutions like 'indirect negative evidence' and 'indirect positive evidence' is available to second language learners.
Issue Date:1992
Rights Information:Copyright 1992 Cho, Seikyung
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9236425
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9236425

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