In the course of his seminal exposition of the 'fundamental difference' between L1 and L2 acquisition, Bley-Vroman (1990: 24) minimized the role of L1 transfer. While subsequent transfer-based accounts have focused on syntax (Schwartz and Sprouse 1996) or phonology (Brown 2000), this paper argues that the importance of lexical transfer is still significantly underestimated. Two key concepts are explored which help delineate learnability issues in L2 lexical acquisition: (1) lexical relativity and (2) Full Lexical Transfer. If lexical representations are not universal but relative, and if the L1 lexicon constitutes the initial state of the interlanguage lexicon (Sprouse 2006), then L2 lexical acquisition involves the relexification of the entire L1 lexicon, with all the syntactic information it contains. The implications of these two phenomena are considered in terms of types of L1-L2 lexical mapping problems, and the learnability problem is set in the light of the vastness of the task of vocabulary acquisition.
Proceedings of the 9th Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition Conference (GASLA 2007)
edited by Roumyana Slabakova, Jason Rothman, Paula Kempchinsky, and Elena Gavruseva
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