Germanic Languages | The Acquisition of German as a 1st / 2nd Language
G540 | 23644 | Sprouse


MW 5:30-6:45

Prerequisites:	None. In particular, neither knowledge of German nor
any specific background in linguistics is a prerequisite for this course.

One of the central concerns of linguistics is an understanding of the
processes of language acquisition. This course introduces students to
some of the basic phenomena associated with native and nonnative
acquisition of German and to some of the recent scholarly literature
on the acquisition of German as a first and as a second language,
primarily focusing on the acquisition of clause structure. In a
nutshell, the broad issues include the following:

(1)	What stages do children and adults pass through in the acquisition
of languages in general and in the acquisition of German in particular?
(2)	In precisely what ways do early child German and nonnative German
differ from adult native German?
(3)	Which elements of the native language grammar transfer to the
initial state of second language acquisition?
(4)	Can we identify systematic differences between adult classroom
learners and adult contact learners?

Every time the course is offered (typically, once every four
semesters), a different set of topics (beyond the basic introductory
material) is explored; thus, students may take the course more than
once for credit. Plans for Spring 2005 call for examination of the
issue of ultimate attainment in the nonnative acquisition of German.
In particular we will examine which aspects of German are acquired
early vs. late by adult learners and compare these patterns with
acquisition of German by children. We compare classroom learners of
German with contact learners and explore possible effects of
instruction on acquisition. We will examine the role of knowledge of
one’s first language and of other nonnative languages as facilitating
or inhibiting adult acquisition of German. Finally, we will consider
whether ultimate attainment by adult learners can ever be
indistinguishable from native acquisition of German.

Texts:			
Hawkins, Roger (2001) Second Language Syntax: A Generative
Introduction. Malden, MA: Blackwell. ISBN: 0-631-19184-4

articles on reserve in BH 643

instructor-generated handouts