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478 LANGUAGE, VOLUME 76, NUMBER 2 (2000) Second language acquisition and the critical period hypothesis. Ed. by David Birdsong. (Second language acquisition research: Theoretical and methodological issues 3.) Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1999. Pp. x, 191. The third in a series on theoretical and methodological issues in second language acquisition (SLA) research, this volume was inspired by the 1996 Association Internationale de Linguistique Appliquée symposium, 'New perspectives on the critical period for SLA'. The editor notes in his introductory chapter (1-18) that several versions of the critical period hypothesis (CPH) are represented in the book, allowing a broad perspective on the issue. In the six chapters that follow, international contributors to the volume are evenly divided in the discussion for and against critical periods in SLA. Diversifying the volume are the range of disciplines that take up the issue and the variety of evidence put forth, including but not limited to morphological, syntactic, and phonological data. The three chapters following the introduction present data from SLA studies that support the CPH. Starting from a neurophysiological approach, Christine M. Weber-Fox and Helen T. Neville (23-36) present the hypothesis that cerebral subsystems for semantics and grammar are differentially affected by critical periods (CPs). The authors' incorporation of both behavioral and electrophysiological research methods provides compelling evidence for this hypothesis . Tames R. Hurford and Simon Kirby (39-62) describe simulations that suggest that evolutionary processes contribute to a CP and discuss the implications for SLA briefly. Lynn Eubank and Kevin R. Gregg (65-93) bring a thorough linguistic theory analysis of the CPH to the volume. Asserting that CPHs in adult SLA demand refinement, the authors demonstrate ways that this refinement can come from linguistic theory. Also discussed in this chapter are fundamental distinctions of critical and/or sensitive periods and the role of physiological evidence for CPs in SLA. Three remaining chapters provide counter explanations that also fit the facts of SLA. James E. Flege (101-27) examines the discontinuity predicted by CPH vs. linear function in second language pronunciation and age of arrival. One view offered is that second language phonological production is limited by accuracy in first language perception. Theo Bongaerts (133-55) reports on three studies that he and his colleagues performed which attempted to address the concern that ultimate attainment studies focus on advanced learners. This chapter suggests that motivation , access, and training in perception and production may contribute to high levels of phonological attainment. The identification of native-like late learners of English and French from Dutch-speaking backgrounds supports this suggestion. In the final chapter (161-78), Ellen Bialystok and Kenji Hakuta challenge the assumption of causality between age and level of attainment. They explore results that fail to support the CPH in both the linguistic and cognitive evidence, concluding that there is reason to accept a null hypothesis contradicting the CPH. The 'younger equals better' hypothesis for SLA remains under advisement. In this regard the virtue of the contributions presented here is that they offer a broad scope for future research. Researchers, graduate students, and teachers will find this volume a useful equilibration of the issues. [Daniel O. Jackson , University of Pennsylvania.] The virtues of language: History in language , linguistics and texts. Ed. by Dieter Stein and Rosanna Sornicola. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1998. Pp. viii, 232. This collection of thirteen essays is dedicated to the memory of Thomas Frank (1925-1990), who held the Chair ofthe History ofEnglish at the University of Naples from 1982 until his death. The first essay, E. F. Konrad Koerner's revised obituary article (originally published in Historiographia Ling üistica 17.421-26 [1990]), summarizes the honorée's many accomplishments over a long and distinguished career (3-10). It contains his bibliography from 1953-1996, which includes a number of studies in the history of linguistics such as a monograph on Bishop Tohn Wilkins's (1714-1792) Essay towards a real character and a philosophical language of 1668 (Guida: Naples, 1979). Rosanna Sornicola's "Thomas Frank in the Neapolitan environment' (11-14) is a historical survey of Frank's career in Naples—from his days as a teaching assistant in English atthe Neapolitan Istituto Universitario...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 478-479
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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