Second Language Acquisition and Universal Grammar

This authoritative textbook provides an overview and analysis of current second language acquisition research conducted within the generative linguistic framework. Lydia White argues that second language acquisition is constrained by principles and parameters of Universal Grammar. The book focuses on characterizing and explaining the underlying linguistic competence of second language learners in terms of these contraints. Theories as to the role of Universal Grammar and the extent of mother tongue influence are presented and discussed, with particular consideration given to the nature of the interlanguage grammar at different points in development, from the initial state to ultimate attainment. Throughout the book, hypotheses maintaining that second language grammars are constrained by universal principles are contrasted with claims that Universal Grammar is not implicated; relevant empirical research is presented from both sides of the debate. This textbook is essential reading for those studying second language acquisition from a linguistic perspective.

• Author is leading researcher in the field: her previous book became the definitive text in this area • No other textbook covers the relevant research on this topic in the last 10 years • Covers recent theoretical and methodological advances in the field


1. Universal grammar and language acquisition; 2. Principles of Universal Grammar in L2 acquisition; 3. The initial state; 4. Grammars beyond the initial state: parameters and functional categories; 5. The transition problem, triggering and input; 6. Morphological variability and the morphology/syntax interface; 7. Argument structure; 8. Ultimate attainment: the nature of the steady state.