Professor of Germanic Studies and Second Language Studies
Ph.D. Princeton University
I arrived at Indiana University in 1994, after having taught at Bucknell University (1985-86), Eastern Oregon State College (1986-88), and Harvard University (1988-94). At IU I have taught primarily courses on the structure, history, and acquisition of the German language. I am a co-founding member of the new Department of Second Language Studies, where I teach a range of courses on second language acquisition.
Selected Recent Publications
Darcy, Isabelle, Laurent Dekydtspotter, Rex A. Sprouse, Justin Glover, Christiane Kaden, Michael McGuire & John H.G. Scott (in press) Direct Mapping of Acoustics to Phonology: On the lexical encoding of front round vowels in L1 English-L2 French acquisition. Second Language Research.
Sprouse, Rex A. (2011) The Interface Hypothesis and Full Transfer/Full Access/Full Parse: A brief comparison. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism 1: 97-100.
Sprouse, Rex A. (2010) The invisibility of SLA theory in mainstream creole linguistics. Second Language Research 26: 261-277.
Sprouse, Rex A. (2009) Creoles and interlanguages, conclusions and research desiderata: A reply to Plag. Langage, Interaction et Acquisition/Language, Interaction and Acquisition 1: 273-291.
Rottet, Kevin & Rex A. Sprouse (2008) Tag questions in Welsh. Diachronica 25: 20-53.
Schwartz, Bonnie D. & Rex A. Sprouse (2007) Linear sequencing strategies or UG-defined hierarchical structures in L2 acquisition? A reply to Meisel. In Simin Karimi, Vida Samiian & Wendy Wilkins, (eds.), Phrasal and Clausal Architecture: Syntactic Derivation and Interpretation: In Honor of Joseph E. Emonds (Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today, 101), Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins, pp 295-318.
Dekydtspotter, Laurent, Bruce Anderson & Rex A. Sprouse (2007) Syntax-semantics interface. In Dalila Ayoun (ed.), French Applied Linguistics (Language Learning and Language Teaching, 16), Philadelphia: John Benjamins, pp. 75-102.
Sprouse, Rex A. (2007) The bankruptcy of the stimulus. In Kamil Ud Deen, Jun Nomura, Barbara Schulz & Bonnie D. Schwartz (eds.), The Proceedings of the Inaugural Conference on Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition—North America. University of Connecticut Occasional Papers in Linguistics 4: 51-63.
Sprouse, Rex A. (2006) Full Transfer and Relexification: Second language acquisition and creole genesis. In Claire Lefebvre, Christine Jourdan & Lydia White (eds.), L2 Acquisition and Creole Genesis: Dialogues (Language Acquisition & Language Disorders, 42), Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins, pp. 169-181.
Dekydtspotter, Laurent, Bonnie D. Schwartz & Rex A. Sprouse (2006) The comparative fallacy in L2 processing research. In Mary Grantham O’Brien, Catherine Shea & John Archibald (eds.), Proceedings of the 8th Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition Conference (GASLA 2006): The Banff Conference, Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press, pp. 33-40.
The primary goal of my research is to gain a better understanding of the adult second language paradox: Why is that adults exposed to a nonnative language develop systems of linguistic knowledge of a startlingly rich and complex nature, including properties for which there is little or no evidence in the input (“poverty/bankruptcy of the stimulus”), while still (in a large percentage of cases) experiencing significant difficulty in the acquisition and use of relatively “simple” features of word choice and form? I am best known in second language studies for proposing (together with Bonnie D. Schwartz, University of Hawaii/University of Nijmegen) the Full Transfer/Full Access hypothesis and for pioneering (together with Laurent Dekydtspotter, Indiana University) research on the syntax-semantics interface in English-French interlanguage. I am currently investigating a re-conceptualization of Full Transfer in terms of relexification/relabeling in the sense that Claire Lefebvre (Université? du Québec à Montréal) has used these terms to describe creole genesis. I am also considering ways in which the Language Instinct becomes “blunted” over the course of the life span, even though the fundamental architecture of grammars and processing mechanisms remains untouched.
Additional topics that have captured my interest over the years include case and agreement in German and Icelandic, perfect auxiliary selection in Romance and Germanic, the comparative correlative construction in German, the syntax of ditransitive verbs in the Germanic languages, and the development of tag questions in Welsh.
Introduction to Second Language Acquisition
Middle High German
Seminar in Applied Linguistics: The Bilingual Mental Lexicon
The Successful Language Learner
I love teaching, and I hope that I can communicate something of my enthusiasm for languages, linguistics, language acquisition, and Western and Central European cultures to my students. A frequent challenge that I face in the classroom is to offer courses that be will be meaningful to groups of students with quite heterogenous backgrounds and interests. I strive to ensure that every student is able to acquire the basic building blocks required to understand the material under consideration, but I also want every student to learn to think critically about the material and to pose challenging questions. I am strongly committed to involving graduate students and exceptionally talented undergraduates as co-authors in my research projects. I have served as Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Germanic Studies since 2004, as Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Second Language Studies since 2009, and as the Resident Director of Indiana University’s Summer Overseas Study Program in Graz, Austria nine times since 2002. I am a passionate advocate of overseas study and foreign language study.
My personal interests include: spirituality and sexuality; Quaker history and theology; non-violence; human rights; social justice; cinema and avant-garde television; anthropology; Kaffee und Kuchen.