Multi-Competence Quotes 1999

I assembled these quotes from different papers in 1999, basically to check how much I was contradicting myself. The initials refer to articles and are gloosed at the end.

See bibliography by Goro & Yoshiko Murahata

## DEFINITION of multi-competence

$$$ 'The compound state of a mind with two grammars Ss and St can be called 'multi-competence' - Ss and St are necessarily in one and the same mind.  (SLR91)

$$$ Multi-competence = The total state of a person who was learning an L2, including both the L1 competence and the L2 interlanguage. - an L2 user does not just have a second L2 competence tacked on to the original L1 competence, an extension built on at the back of the house; rather the L2 user's mind is different as a whole - the whole house has been rewired.  (SALZ)

$$$ multi-competence=the state of language knowledge of a mind with two grammars

$$$ Multi-competence could be seen as no more than a label for people who possess two or more grammars, a technical matter of terminology.  (THES)

$$$ The two grammars are related to each other by virtue of coexisting in the same mind and eventually having to connect to the same cognitive and performance processes; we don't have a different pair of lips or eyes to use for our second language; nor quite probably do we have a different set of semantic meanings.  (HK)

$$$ Linguistic competence refers to the L1 native competence; interlanguage to the L2 competence; multi-competence to the total state of language knowledge of a person who uses an L2, including both the L1 competence and the L2 interlanguage. 

$$$ At one level multi-competence is undeniable; as L2 users do not have two heads, their minds must be different at some level of abstraction.  (MCEV)

## the start of multi-competence

$$$ Multi-competence is not a final steady-state of knowledge -  Multi-competence refers to a person's knowledge of more than one language system; wherever there is language knowledge of an L2 that is not simply assimilated by the L1, such as lexical borrowing, there is multi-competence.  The point of emergence is therefore when a system starts being used that is not just that of the L1. (mentioned in (SLR91) elaborated in MCEV)

## DEFINITION of wholistic and separatist

$$$ 'separatist multi-competence' = Two or more discrete grammars Ss and St: 'wholistic multi-competence' = one overall system (SLR91)

$$$ The more general hypothesis that the languages of multi-competence form a total language system within the mind rather than independent systems; this can be called, to coin yet another variation, 'wholistic multi-competence'.  It is opposed to the idea of 'separatist multi-competence' which claims that the two systems, though part of the same mind, are nevertheless separate.  Wholistic multi-competence is clearly a broader notion than the usual UG model.  (THES)

$$$ In some ways it might yield a distinction similar to that between compound and coordinate bilingualism (MCEV)

## 'Multi-competence as the norm'

$$$ The problem of language acquisition is how one mind acquires one or more grammars from input.  (OD)

$$$ The primary question for linguistics should be, not Chomsky's  'What constitutes knowledge of language?' (Chomsky, 1986, p.3), but 'What constitutes knowledge of languages?".  (MCEV)

$$$ All human beings are capable of acquiring and knowing more than one language, at least to some extent.  The starting point for linguistics could be argued to be the mind with two languages, not the person with one.  (L&SLA)

$$$ I have begun to wonder whether it is does not reflect a serious need in our field to shift to a perspective in which knowing a second language is taken to be normal rather than possessing merely one. (SALZ)

$$$ Mono-competence is a misleading representation of the human species rather than a convenient idealisation - a child who gets input in two languages acquires two grammars - the problem is not explaining how the mind sets a parameter from evidence; it is how it manages to acquire one or more settings from evidence.  (SLR91) 

$$$ It is often taken for granted that the onus is to provide evidence for the systems to be joined rather than evidence that they are separate. -  the bilingual view that it is normal to have a single unified system of two or more languages (MCEV)

$$$ FAILURE Why should L2 users be treated as failed monolinguals?  Their competence is whatever it is, not to be compared in derogatory fashion with monolingual competence: it is a different kind of thing.  -  A proper account of L2 learning would treat multi-competence in its own terms, not in L1-related terms.  Linguists learnt many years ago not to discriminate against speakers of 'primitive languages', class dialects, regional dialects, sex dialects, and so on, but to accept them as equals; the parallel to the L2 situation is that any measure that evaluates L2 learners against L1 natives in terms of success or failure neglects their existence as L2 users.  Their target is multi-competence at some level, not ersatz monolingualism in another language.  The starting point of SLA research should not be that its subjects are deficient compared to a group of which they can never be members by definition.  In a sense bilinguals are obviously superior to monolinguals in transcending the limitations of one language system, to whatever extent.  -  if most human beings arguably use more than one language, basing linguistics on monolinguals is not so much a convenient idealisation as a misleading representation of the human species.  The system of mental representation of language has to be flexible enough to deal with knowledge of more than one language by the same mind, not just one.  Suppose you have a desk with six drawers.  You may decide to put all your clothes in one drawer and have the others empty.  But, to describe the desk, you still need to talk about all six drawers as they are potentially available even if you yourself do not happen to use them.  - Taking the monolingual's knowledge of language as the basis of linguistics may be as useful as investigating cycling by looking at a man on a monocycle.  (L&SLA)

$$$ FAILURE: anyone who does not achieve equivalence in the L2 to their L1 is in some sense a write-off.  - The efficient L2 user is not an ersatz native speaker but a different type of being; the wrong yardstick is being used if we compare him or her to a monolingual.  The interlanguage assumption was that we should not compare the grammars of L2 learners to those of natives; this did not go far enough in that the ultimate destination of interlanguages was still seen as monolingual competence.  Much of the research in the SLA field has been carried out by researchers coming from monolingual cultures, often English in particular; too little research has emerged from countries where bilingualism is taken for granted, say the countries of Central Africa.  We may have been stressing the peculiarity and the difficulty of L2 learning because of our own cultural assumptions.   (SALZ)

## The monolingual bias to research

$$$ At best L2 learners should be compared to the fluent bilingual, not the monolingual  (MCEV) 

$$$ Instead of L2 users being treated as deficient monolinguals, they should be treated as people in their own right.  Suppose a person functions at 100% in their L1.  Measured against this yardstick, the L2 knowledge of a learner ranges from 0% to 100%.  As learners seldom approach the upper limit, L2 learning has often been seen in terms of lack of success; few bilinguals succeed in achieving or maintaining equal balance between L1 and L2 knowledge.  So L2 learning research has often tried to discover the reasons why L2 learning is comparatively unsuccessful.  ...  But suppose we think of the L2 learner as acquiring something extra rather than a substitute for the L1 - the vocabulary, syntax, etc of the L1 plus the vocabulary, syntax, etc of the L2.  The knowledge of the L2 increases the L2 user's capabilities beyond those of a monolingual, rather than being a defective L1 knowledge.  Measured against the 100% of a person who knows one language, the balanced bilingual is functioning at 200%; L2 learners of lesser achievement are still functioning at levels between 100% and 200%.  (L&SLA)

$$$ Those who start from the balanced bilingual see the L2 learner as a failure for not achieving full L2 competence; even bilinguals, according to Grosjean (1989), 'often assume and amplify the monolingual view and hence criticise their own language competence'.  Those who start from the bilingual view see the learner as a success in going beyond the initial L1, to whatever degree.  This stepping beyond the original 100% may in itself be some explanation for the well-known fact that the L1 learner invariably gets to 100%, the L2 learner seldom gets to 200%; it is because the L2 and the L1 are related in the mind that the L2 cannot be learnt as a second L1.

## Evidence for multi-competence as a distinct state of mind

$$$ Multi-competence in some respects contains a different state of L1 knowledge - the grammar of the L2 in a multi-competent speaker is not the same as the apparently equivalent grammar in a monolingual. - the multi-competent individual approaches language differently in terms of metalinguistic awareness  - L2 users think differently from monolinguals. - people with multi-competence are not simply equivalent to two monolinguals but a combination that is sui generis  (MCEV)

## Evidence for wholistic multi-competence 

$$$ Evidence for interrelationship between the two lexicons: codeswitching provides ambiguous support for wholistic multi-competence - the L2 user does not effectively switch off the L1 while processing the L2 but has it constantly available  - storage not differentiated - L1 proficiency leads to L2 proficiencey (MCEV)


$$$ Lambert (1990): 'How is it that the bilingual is able to 'gate out' or set aside a whole integrated linguistic system while functioning with a second one, and a moment later, if the situation calls for it, switch the process, activating the previous inactive system and setting aside the previous active one?' - Most of the time L2 users effectively keep the two languages separate. - A proper test for wholistic multi-competence may be, not just separation of two systems, but also whether the resulting overall system is different from the two systems added together.  (MCEV)

## Transfer and multi-competence

$$$ The total state of multi-competence implies relationships between the two languages stored in the same mind at some level, even if not the merger of wholistic multi-competence.  The influence is unidirectional rather than bidirectional.  (MCEV) 

$$$ Transfer over time and transfer at a particular moment of time - Even if the overall competences of learners with different L1s come to resemble each other more as they progress, this does not mean that they have not used transfer during the course of their language acquisition, even if they no longer find it necessary.  I learnt to swim with water wings but no longer use them.  Elsewhere a distinction has been made between codebreaking language and decoding language As part of multi-competence, transfer may both have a historical source and also be part of the current knowledge state.  (MCEV)


$$$ The grammar is a state of UG, not a product of UG.  The original LAD black box metaphor reifies UG as something separate from the grammar; the alternative 'states' metaphor sees the language faculty itself as the grammar.  - it would be bizarre to talk of the language faculty having or not having access to itself; it is the same problem that an MSDOS computer solves by warning "A file may not be copied ono itself".  -   Either the language faculty in some sense clones itself in an L2 or the same language faculty has to incorporate, at best all, at worst none, of the knowledge of the second language. -  The differences that occur in the L2 forms of principles and parameters are due, not to lack of access, but to the problem of simultaneously storing two versions alongside each other; it is not the lack of access to UG that is at stake, it is the possession of two versions of UG instantiated in the same mind.  (Ellis)

$$$ We can talk about how UG accommodates the grammar of an L1 and how it simultaneously accommodates the grammar of an L2; it is meaningless to debate whether UG has access to itself.  There is no product of the acquisition process; the language faculty exists in an altered state; UG is its own product. Suppose that UG is transformed by the input into language knowledge; there is not so much a product grammar as a UG holding a particular set of values for parameters.  To quote Yeats, 'How can we know the dancer from the dance?'  UG is not something separate to which the acquisition device has access but is the acquisition device itself. (avtug)

## UG and multi-competence 

$$$ The SLA debate has not then been fair to the original UG model because it asks "Is there access by some learning process to UG in SLA?" not "Does L2 learning take place through UG?"  - The question of 'access' may be an artefact of the LAD metaphor; looked at from the vantage point of the states metaphor, it vanishes.  (L&SLA)

$$$ If there are specific peculiarities to the instantiation of UG in an L2, this does not mean they are 'wrong' because they are not found in L1 acquisition, but that a model of UG based solely on L1 acquisition is inadequate.  (L&SLA)

## the poverty-of-the-stimulus argument:

L2 learners have different Sts therefore the broad argument is difficult to use because of the variability of the final state St and the variety of evidence that the classroom can potentially provide.  (SLR91)

## Acquisition of grammars

$$$ The problem is not how the mind acquires one or more languages but how it acquires one or more grammars. - When the UG of the language faculty becomes instantiated in two forms simultaneously, the L2 form is different from that in a monolingual L1 speaker.  (Ellis)

$$$ What 'language' does the L2 learner speak in the L2?  (HK)

$$$ Hence there is no necessity that the speaker should actually be speaking something that corresponds to one of the world's languages such as French or English, only that the grammar conforms to the possible schemata laid down in Universal Grammar.  (ELLIS)

## Wholistic multi-competence and polylectal grammars

$$$ Wholistic multi-competence is in some ways an extension of polylectalism to two languages rather than two dialects.  (MCEV)

$$$ It may be convenient to treat English as having a single non-pro-drop parameter setting, but the pro-drop alternative solution is lurking in the wings.  (Ellis)


$$$ If the mind is seen as potentially knowing more than one grammar from the outset, each parameter can have two settings; the mind switches from one to the other more or less from moment to moment.  The foundation of the theory has to be this ability to know two settings simultaneously.  Starting from the monolingual person commits the theory to a particular fixed architecture of the mind with the switches permanently set.  The model has to recognise that minds with more than one setting for a parameter are the norm instead of the exception. (ODD)

$$$ The states metaphor put forward here suggests that there are typically two alternative settings, one of which is chosen in an L2 in response to positive evidence, but the other of which is still present in the system, albeit with greatly diminished strength.  This allows the speaker within the L1 to adjust the setting according to the register encountered - pro-drop say in reading a diary, non-pro-drop in other circumstances.  Some such flexibility is needed in the L1 to avoid postulating the speaker has many L1 grammars, which are switched among according to the situation.  (ELLIS)

$$$ The wholistic multi-competence view is that the mind indeed possesses both values for a parameter at the same time.  (Ellis)

$$$ All parameter settings are still somehow available to L1 native speakers; the other positions on the dial are still there.  -  Perhaps it is logically possible that the speaker has a large set of grammars in the mind just for English, each with a single parameter different from the others; it seems more plausible to postulate a single grammar with variable settings, one more preferred than the other but the others still present at some level of activation.  Indeed the overriding argument for the principles and parameters version of UG was that acquisition is simplified for the child if the number of competing grammars is restricted; allowing multiple grammars in the mind even for monolinguals seems to abandon this claim.  (HK)

$$$ Settings have strengths rather than all-or-none values; each type of language situation increases or decreases the strength of the settings.   - A second language is an extreme case of the kind of switching found in the L1.  The stronger setting for the pro-drop parameter in English may indeed be non-pro-drop; -   L2 learners gradually increasing the strength for a particular setting and never reaching the strength of the native (Ellis)

$$$ PARSING On the one hand, it could be that each parameter is set once and for all, and the parser thereby becomes a parser for English, Greek, or whatever specific language is needed.  In this case the L2 user has two parsers and chooses which one is on line at a time.  On the other hand it could be that there is a single parser with flexible parameter settings; the parser sets a weighting for each parameter according to which language is being used.  The latter seems a more plausible explanation for the ability to codeswitch. Two pieces of evidence from L2 learners suggest that the multi-competence parser is of this latter type.  -  (i) grammaticality judgements to prepositional phrases with English order showed the Japanese setting seemed somehow still to be on-line while they were processing English   -   Their mental parser had both English and Japanese settings available at the same time.    (ii) The Governing Category Parameter (Cook, 1990).  L2 users were different from natives in both number of errors and in response times to sentences with various types of binding relationship.  The odd thing was that the different settings of binding possible in various sentence seemed to have the same type of effect on both native and non-native speakers.   -  The alternative settings were, so to speak, there for all speakers, even if used only by some.  (THES)

$$$ PARSING It could be that in some sense the values of a parameter are looked up each time it is actually used; that the parameter values are accessed continuously.  -  the parser indeed has resettable values; the needle on the parameter dial points to a particular setting but this can be changed readily to other familiar settings, and, with greater difficulty, to hitherto unused settings.  The parser is resettable, in some cases virtually instantaneously as in codeswitching.  (HK)

## principles versus parameters

$$$ Learning a second language does not affect the principles as these do not change from one language to another; hence Japanese learners are still as bound by structure-dependency as English native speakers and spot violations of principles with ease.  It does affect the parametric aspects of language; -   The reason why multi-competence is possible is that it represents an enlarged lexicon, with many more lexical items specified in terms of parameters.  -  The lexical parameter view of acquisition would then seem to fit with the view of multi-competence put forward here (Ellis)

$$$ Testing violations of principles is a valid test of whether L2 grammars conform to UG; testing settings of parameters reveals only whether the learner has adopted a setting that conforms to the L2, rather than revealing the unique nature of the L2 grammar.  (???? Ellis)

## principles and parameters

$$$ We have been studying UG in Second Language Acquisition research from the wrong direction.  The question should never be 'does the  L2 learner's grammar confrom to that of the target language?' but always 'what is the learner's L2 grammar?'.  -  the test for principles is always appropriate as it is testing whether the L2 grammar in fact conforms to the constraints on any human grammar, not just those in the target language.  The testing for parameter settings is also appropriate in so far as it sees whether the L2 grammars conform to the bounds set by UG; but it is not appropriate if it tests exclusively for the way in which the L2 target language sets the parameters.  (Ellis)

$$$ The notion that the mind may simultaneously have two settings for a parameter rather than one means that the actual forms of description have to allow for one mind to switch from one setting to another over short periods of time in codeswitching or long periods of time in L2 learning.  (L&SLA)

## multi-competence and language teaching 

$$$ A syllabus that does not take the particular nature of L2 users into account will be inadequate.  -  the heritage of the students that has been consistently denied them is their first language (MCEV)


SLR = 'The poverty-of-the-stimulus argument and multi-competence', Second Language Research, 7, 2, 103-117, 1991

THES = 'The development of multicompetence', Proceedings of the 5th Symposium on the Description and/or Comparison of English and Greek, March 27-29, 1991, 394-404

HK = 'Multi-competence, Universal Grammar, and Second Language Acquisition', MS paper given at Chinese University of Hong Kong 1991

ODD = 'Universal Grammar and the learning and teaching of second languages', in T. Odlin (ed.), Perspectives on Pedagogical Grammar, CUP, 1994

MCEV = 'Evidence for multi-competence', Language Learning, 1992, 42, 4, 557-591

SALZ = 'Wholistic multi-competence - jeu d'esprit or paradigm shift?', in B. Kettemann & W. Wieden (eds) Current Issues in European Second Language Acquisition Research, Narr, Tubingen, 2-8

ELLIS = 'The metaphor of access to Universal Grammar', in Ellis, N. (ed.), Implicit Learning and Language, 1994, Erlbaum

L&SLA = Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition, Macmillan, 1993

WHAT = 'The object of Second Language Acquisition', unpublished draft

'Multi-competence and effects of age', in D. Singleton (ed.), Age in Second Language Acquisition, to appear


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