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Title: Activating vs. resetting functional categories in SLA : the acquisition of AGR and TNS in English by Sinhalese first language speakers
Author: Ratwatte, Hemamala
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1995
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This study is concerned with the acquisition of Functional categories (FCs) in a second language: a FC that is not activated in the learners native language and a FC that is activated in the L1 but with parametrically variant properties. It focuses on the development and the knowledge representation at ultimate attainment of the two types of FC's in the ILG of native speakers of Sinhalese learning English as a second language. The FC's focused on are AGR(eement) and TNS (Tense). AGR is not instantiated in Sinhala, hence, it has to be 'activated' in the L2. TNS, is activated in both languages but with parametrically variant values. It was predicted that learners carryover FCs common to the L1 and L2 together with their L1 properties. Hence, in the acquisition of English, these learners have to 'reset' the values to TNS. A series of tests was carried out to determine the knowledge representation of AGR and TNS, in the developing grammars and at near-native level. Acceptability judgements were elicited from a cross-sectional sample of learners ranging from lower-intermediate to near-native and a control group of native speakers. It was predicted that L2 learners have access to the 'Universal Grammar (UG) lexicon' and are therefore able to activate FC's not activated in the L1, and that they are also able to 'reset' values to FC's. It is assumed that the Principles of UG are universal and available to all learners. It was hypothesised that the availability of the UG lexicon will be reflected in the nature of the knowledge representation at ultimate attainment, i.e., whether the underlying competence is incomplete, divergent or complete.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available