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The Role of Typological Universals in SLA
Pages 8 (2008 words)
In order to understand Typological Universals we should see the world's languages almost as a single organism with various overlapping areas between the languages closest to them in 'root' as well as 'universal links' with all other world languages. No matter how diverse, all languages are connected by common principles - these are Typological Universals.
All humans learn their first language in the same way. Firstly through a preliminary stage of prelinguistic development and 'babbling' followed by a single word stage, and then a two-word stage. Simple sentences follow after this before the 'embedding' process is finalized through the use of complete sentences.
There are a number of absolute universals that have characteristics which hold for all languages. The most powerful universals take the form of hierarchies (an ordered list). Below are examples of Color, Vowel and Animacy hierarchies:
There are many ways knowledge of universal typologies can aid SLA but one important way could be termed 'The Iceberg Effect'. It can be difficult to learn a second language if you have scant knowledge of the structure and grammar of your own language. Although the L1 and L2 might be vastly different, they are still linked through the brain of the speaker. In understanding one's own language first, we then develop a framework for comparison. When we make a comparison we understand the perils of 'direct translation' from one language to another. While we see similarities in the use of certain tenses, articles, pronouns etc. we know that there are many instances when the two languages have very little in common. ...
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