Anteprima della tesi di Silvia Pareti

How the Learning of a Second Language Affects the First Language of an Individual: The Italian of Monolingual and Multilingual Speakers

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Anteprima della tesi: How the Learning of a Second Language Affects the First Language of an Individual: The Italian of Monolingual and Multilingual Speakers, Pagina 1

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11. INTRODUCTORY REMARKS
Monolinguals have always been regarded as the norm, the standard, the
yardstick to employ in order to analyze every kind of deviation from this norm.
In today's complex world, monolingual speakers cannot be considered the norm
any longer, and they probably never were. We live in a multilingual world,
exposed to several languages. It makes no difference whether we live in a
bilingual community or we speak a dialect at home, we use another language for
work or we just study a foreign language at school. The word Monolingual in its
pure meaning is dying out. For our studies we will then consider bilingualism as
a continuum and we will take into consideration the minimal or maximal
exponents of it.
The aim of this work will be the analysis of the effects of the L2 on the
L1 through the comparison of the first language of monolingual and multilingual
speakers. We will proceed considering recent findings on the influence of the L2
on the L1, collected by Cook (2003), and concerning a wide spectrum of
languages. For the purposes of this study, we will then focus our attention on
native speakers of Italian, either monolingual or English L2 users.
Early studies
1
focused their attention on how the first language of a
person plays a key role in the learning of a second language, in particular
influencing the way this is learned and conceptualized in the learner’s mind, and
determining the typology of mistakes he will make. Not many studies (Cook,
2003; Kecskes & Papp, 2000), and only recently, have on the contrary given the
importance it deserves to the phenomenon also called ‘reverse influence’.
Although the effect of L2 on L1 is a quite difficult phenomenon to observe, it
informs us of the way the linguistic system of bilinguals works.
The most obvious occurrence of the influence of a second language on
the first one, and consequently the first to attract the attention of linguists,
1
Studies on the influence of the L1 on the L2 started in the 50s-60s, with works on Contrastive
Analysis. According to Lado (1957:57), “individuals tend to transfer the forms and meanings, and
the distribution of froms and meanings of their native language and culture to the foreign language
and culture”. The effects were recognized as positive (facilitation) or negative (interference). The
general idea is that both the L1 and general developmental processes shape the SLA (Second
Language Acquisition).