Nicholas Longenbaugh and Maria Polinsky
This chapter summarizes major results in the domain of experimental approaches to ergativity, focusing on three major topics. First, it discusses studies that explore the competition between accusative and ergative alignment, where researchers have attempted to derive the typological preference for accusative alignment from processing- and learnability based constraints. Next, it examines studies concerning the interrelated issues of long-distance dependencies and agreement. The unique dissociation of case and argument-hood in ergative languages has afforded researchers new means of testing conclusions regarding the privileged grammatical status of subject, the relative import and function of case and agreement in the grammar, and the origins of constraints on extraction in ergative languages and beyond. Given that linguists have only recently begun to conduct experimental research on ergative languages, we conclude by suggesting areas for future research where ergativity might provide genuine insights rather than just replicate existing studies of accusative languages.
In the contemporary world of second language teaching, most professionals largely take it for granted that language instruction is naturally divided into discrete skill sets, typically reflecting speaking, listening, reading, and writing, and usually arranged in this order. Based on the principles of Bloomfieldian linguistic analyses, the structural division of language teaching in the four skill areas has the learning objective of imitating the native speaker. The continual separation of the four skills lies at the core of research and testing in speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Some current approaches to teaching language, however, strive to integrate the four skills in pedagogy whenever possible. This article begins with a brief look at the historic and methodological reasons for the continual separation of the four skills in teaching. Then it addresses the highly idiosyncratic and limited designs of major English language tests and concludes with an overview of the pedagogical and methodological currents in integrated language instruction.
Douglas Biber, Randi Reppen, and Eric Friginal
Corpus linguistics is a research approach that has developed over the past few decades to support empirical investigations of language variation and use, resulting in research findings that are have much greater generalizability and validity than would otherwise be feasible. Corpus linguistics is not in itself a model of language. Rather, it can be regarded as primarily a methodological approach; it is empirical, analyzing the actual patterns of use in natural texts. It utilizes a large and principled collection of natural texts, known as a corpus, as the basis for analysis. At the same time, corpus linguistics is more than a methodological approach, because these methodological innovations have enabled researchers to ask fundamentally different kinds of research questions, sometimes resulting in radically different perspectives on language variation and use from those taken in previous research. Corpus linguistic research offers strong support for the view that language variation is systematic and can be described using empirical, quantitative methods.
A ‘Second Occurrence Focus’ (SOF) is the semantic focus of a focus sensitive operator (like only) which is contextually given. SOF has been claimed to be phonologically unmarked, which poses a problem for association with focus theories assuming a direct relation between focus and pitch accent. This chapter discusses the main semantic-pragmatic accounts of the SOF challenge but also empirical investigations which found that SOF actually is marked by secondary (i.e. non-nuclear) prosodic prominence, providing evidence in favour of association with focus theories. A similar prosodic pattern could be found in semantically and prosodically comparable structures such as cases of implicational bridging. Finally, an outlook on a possible unified approach of the phonological representation of second occurrence expressions is presented which is based on metrical stress.
This chapter describes some of the challenges that learners face when they wish to build a sizeable vocabulary in a second language and discusses proposals for helping learners meet those challenges. These proposals include (a) prioritizing high-utility words in vocabulary instruction, (b) manipulating texts so as to draw learners’ attention to selected target words, (c) equipping learners with strategies that support learner autonomy, and (d) exploiting validated memorization techniques. A recurring theme is the risk that learners run of being confused about the meaning and/or form of new words due to interference from look alikes, such as deceptive cognates in their mother tongue.