On second language processing and grammatical development The parser in second language acquisition

Laurent Dekydtspotter, Claire Renaud

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The parsing-to-learn hypothesis (Fodor, 1998) identifying the parser as the language acquisition device (PLAD) is discussed for second-language (L2) grammatical acquisition. Parsing is assumed to involve concomitant UG-sanctioned structure generation and licensing by a parameterized lexicon. In this architecture, licensing induces immediate changes to the lexical knowledge base as new feature matrices for categories and their exponents are registered. Stages arise as these matrices are increasingly activated and can be accessed within the narrow window imposed by working-memory limitations. Specifically, the PLAD instantiates feature re-assembly (Lardiere, 2009) in response to licensing failures (Clark & Roberts, 1993), characterizing transitions between grammatical states (Gregg, 1996, 2003) in the Full Transfer/Full Access model (Schwartz & Sprouse, 1994, 1996). The PLAD is examined in light of current research and of evidence showing mandatory engagement of syntax, breakdown reflecting feature organization, and domain-specificity. The PLAD offers potentially fruitful insights about L2 parsing and grammatical development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-165
Number of pages35
JournalLinguistic Approaches to Bilingualism
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2014


  • Feature re-assembly
  • Full transfer/full access
  • Language acquisition device
  • Parsing to learn
  • Second language acquisition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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