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Universal Grammar and second language acquisition: The null hypothesis

  • Samuel David Epstein (a1), Suzanne Flynn (a2) and Gita Martohardjono (a3)

The target article advanced the null, unified and widely misinterpreted generative hypothesis regarding second language (L2) acquisition. Postulating that UG (Universal Grammar) constrains L2 knowledge growth does not entail identical developmental trajectories for L2 and first language (LI) acquisition; nor does it preclude a role for the L1. In embracing this hypothesis, we maintain a distinction between competence and performance. Those who conflate the two repeat fundamental and by no means unprecedented misconstruals of the generative enterprise, and more specifically, of the empirical content of the null hypothesis regarding L2 linguistic knowledge growth. We hope to have identified certain common goals, the adoption of which might constitute a firm foundation for continued productive interdisciplinary development of contemporary theoretical and experimental L2 acquisition research.

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Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • ISSN: 0140-525X
  • EISSN: 1469-1825
  • URL: /core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences
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