Second language acquisition theory conventionally represents itself as having been invented ex nihilo in the last decades of the twentieth century. This article investigates the nature of this largely unexamined disciplinary self-concept and questions its validity. I dispute arguments that might be formulated to support the notion that SLA theory has no relevant earlier history, enumerate some of the unfortunate consequences of maintaining this belief, and speculate about benefits to the field that might accrue from abandoning it. Instead of presenting SLA theory as having its origin in the last 20 or 30 years, I suggest that we need to look for ways to identify, investigate, and eventually reconceptualize its true history.
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