11:16 AM

Spanish Program Hosts Talk on Language Rules

The Spanish program in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences is pleased to present Against "Rules," a talk with Bill VanPatten, Michigan State University, and Jason Rothman, University of Reading, at 7 p.m. Feb. 20 in A300.


The notion of "rules" seems intuitive when talking about language. In second language instruction, we often present "rules" to students as objects to be learned. In second language research, it is common to refer to the "acquisition of rules" when describing the object of learning. In the present paper, we offer an argument against this classic use of "rule." Using contemporary linguistic theory, we describe a three-tiered system within any language consisting of (1) those aspects of language that are innate and this not acquired, (2) those that are derived from or are consequences of particular innate constructs, and (3) those that are particular to a given language and must be learned from exposure. Within this tripartite system, we do not see the operation of rules in any classic sense, and in the few cases in which one might argue that there is a "rule," our claim is that such a rule cannot be acquired but instead evolves over time as the linguistic system in a second language learner develops. In this sense, anything that resembles a "rules" is a consequence of acquisition, not a target.

For more information about the event, contact Paul Mandell at mandellp@uhd.edu.