Chapter 2. Rediscovering prediction

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This chapter focuses on predictions involving language transfer, which are among the predictions that Selinker (1972) regarded as feasible. Recent studies (e.g., Jarvis 2002) show results that make plausible some predictions for novel SLA contexts (e.g., “Speakers of Finnish as a group will have a greater difficulty with the articles of Portuguese than will speakers of Swedish as a group”). Although predictions involving structures such as articles seem viable (along with some inferences about their significance for what Selinker called the Latent Psychological Structure), there are limits on predictability. Group tendencies often seem predictable but individual behavior much less so, particularly in light of three phenomena considered in the chapter: multilingualism, idiosyncrasy in IL forms, and idiosyncrasy in IL meanings.


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