Learning a second language: the availability of Universal Grammar
Feest, Jolanda van der
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Children learning Dutch as their first language do not seem to have problems with the verb-final character of Dutch subordinate clauses as they use it correctly from the beginning (e.g. Klein, 1974). Adults learning Dutch as a second language tend to assume that the language has an SVO order and only modify this as they become more advanced (e.g. Jordens, 1988). Dutch is traditionally assumed to be an SOV language, but this is not uncontroversial. A key question in the matter of second language acquisition is whether or not the adult second language learners have access to UG. In this paper it will be argued that adult L2 learners do not have access to UG, but rely on their general linguistic knowledge and their knowledge of secondary rules in languages that they have learned instead of acquired (Krashen, 1981). This will be illustrated by the experiment conducted for this paper, which tests the usage of verb positions in Dutch subordinate clauses by Icelandic adult second language learners of Dutch.