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By Lillian M. Malavé, Georges Duquette

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Extra resources for Language, Culture and Cognition: A Collection of Studies in First and Second Language Acquisition (Multilingual Matters)

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Page 23 2 Along the Way: Interlanguage Systems in Second Language Acquisition Larry Selinker Introduction This essay will provide an overview of some of the concepts comprising the interlanguage (IL) hypothesis. 1 The word 'hypothesis' should be stressed here since much of what follows, it must be emphasised, is still in the realm of hypothesis and not of certainty. This is because, quite honestly, we haven't been around that long. The field of second language acquisition (SLA), of which IL is a part, is a relatively new field.

For example, consider a male sperm cell. How does it know its objective of uniting with a female egg cell, and how does it know when to stop looking and start uniting? Regarding this feat, Binet quoted contemporary biologist, Balbiani, who said: 'I believe that the spermatozoids do not move about blindly, but . . act in obedience to a kind of inner impulsion, to a sort of volition which directs them to a definite object' (1888: 78). Or, how does a cell of a developing embryo know whether it is to be part of a hand, or eye, or ear, or whatever?

This linking, in all cases it would seem, depends on certain types of grammatical relations; for instance, such a linking depends on an infinitely rich set of subject-predicate relations (both dependent and independent, subordinate and superordinate), as well as negations of such relations, conjunctions of them, and other complications of all of the foregoing. If these grammatical relations did not exist prior to any given event in experience, it would be impossible (apparently) to conceptualise or represent the experience of any event as humans in fact are able to do.

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