Formal Linguistic Approaches to Adult Second Language Acquisition and Processing

Jason Rothman, Fatih Bayram, Ian Cunnings, Jorge González Alonso.
Book Title
in press
Cambridge University Press

This chapter provides an overview of the major contemporary trends driving adult, non-native language acquisition and processing research from a formal linguistic theory perspective. In doing so, we contextualize for the reader what formal linguistics is, inclusive of the main tenets of generative grammar. We provide an overview of the formative questions of generative second language acquisition (GenSLA), focusing on how they have been recast/refocused over time in accord with: (a) the evolution of formal linguistic theory, (b) insights from GenSLA’s own research over three decades and other paradigms of SLA, as well as (c) the expansion of empirical testing methods to include psycholinguistic and neurolinguistic processing measures. All of the aforementioned is done with the backdrop of adult language learning in mind; that is, what do formal linguistic studies on adult non-native language acquisition and processing contribute to our understanding of how L2ers typically learn/process language?