28 May 2019 - Roeland van Hout [CANCELLED!]
Please register through the CLiPS website.
Tuesday 28th of May 2019, 16:00 - 17.00
Annexe, Building R - Stadscampus, Rodestraat 14, Antwerpen 2000.
Big data suggest strong constraints of linguistic similarity on adult language learning
When adults learn new languages, their speech often remains noticeably non-native even after years of exposure. These non-native varieties can have far reaching socio-economic consequences for learners. Many factors have been found to contribute to a learners’ proficiency in the new language. Here we examine a factor that is outside of the control of the learner, linguistic similarities between the learner’s native language (L1) and the new language (Ln). We analyze the speaking proficiencies of about 50,000 Ln learners of Dutch with 62 diverse L1s. We find that language background accounts for a large proportion of variance in proficiency (~17%) and that almost 80% of this effect can be explained by combining measures of phonological, morphological, and lexical similarity between the L1 and the Ln. These results highlight the constraints that a learner’s native language imposes on language learning, and inform theories of L1-to-Ln transfer during Ln learning and use. As predicted by some proposals, we also find that L1-Ln phonological similarity is better captured when subcategorical properties (phonological features) are considered in the calculation of phonological similarities.
Roeland Van Hout is a variational linguist and a sociolinguist with a strong focus on statistical data processing. His research covers a wide range of topics, the most prominent ones being dialect variation in the Dutch language area, linguistic perceptions and attitudes with respect to varieties of Dutch and the acquisition of Dutch as a second or third language.