Keynote Speakers

VanPattenDr. Bill VanPatten (PhD, University of Texas at Austin) is professor of Spanish and Second Language Studies at Michigan State University associate member of the Center for Literacy and Multilingualism at the University of Reding (UK), visiting professor at the Center for Applied Research and Outreach in Language Education (CAROLE) at the University of Greenwich, and co-editor of the journal Studies on Second Language Acquisition. Dr. VanPatten is widely known for his work in second language acquisition and second language instruction, with special emphases on input processing, processing and parsing more generally, the interface between input processing and acquisition, morpho-syntactic relationships, and instructed SLA. Dr. VanPatten has published more than 120 articles, several books, and book chapters and has received local and national awards for his research, teaching, leadership, and mentoring. For more information and downloadable versions of available publications, please check:

Keynote presentation:

What has Happened to SLA?

 In this talk, I review the foundation of second language acquisition as a field. I trace its roots to Chomsky’s critique of Skinner, the pioneering work of first language acquisition in the late-1950s and early- to mid-1960s, and the seminal papers by S. Pit Corder and Larry Selinker. I review the central question that emerged from the confluence of these roots: Is second language acquisition like first language acquisition? The thesis of my talk is that this central question of L2 research has been lost amid the importation and misapplication of ideas that have muddled the field, the proliferation of approaches that do not address the central question, and the inability of the field to converge on definitions of language and acquisition. I conclude that SLA has “lost its way” and suggest that there might not even be a field of SLA any longer. 

me2012acopyDr. Carmel O’Shannessy (PhD, University of Sydney, Australia and Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, The Netherlands) is associate professor of Linguistics at the University of Michigan. Dr. O’Shannessy  research interests include bilingual child acquisition,  language contact, language change and language documentation of endangered languages. In 2014, Dr. O’Shannessy was awarded a National Science Foundation Project/Grant to work on the documentation and acquisition of Light Warlpiri and Warlpiri, endangered languages spoken by indigenous communities in Northern Australia. For more information and downloadable versions of available publications, please check:

Keynote presentation:

Multilingualism and the emergence of Light Warlpiri, an Australian mixed language

A combination of multilingual and sociocultural practices prompted the emergence of Light Warlpiri, a mixed language spoken in a Warlpiri community in northern Australia. In the 1970-80s adult speakers of Warlpiri in one community code-switched to very young children in a specific pattern that was then conventionalized by the children as a single code. The sources of Light Warlpiri are typologically different – English-lexified varieties (English and Kriol), and Australian Warlpiri (Pama-Nyungan). Defining features of Light Warlpiri are re-analyzed verbal structure, derived from English and Kriol, with innovations, combined with the Warlpiri nominal case-marking system. The system emerged about 40 years ago, allowing us the opportunity to track its origin and path of development. Light Warlpiri speakers are multilingual, also speaking Warlpiri and varieties of English, and switching between them fluidly.

In this paper I will first illustrate the multilingual sources of elements of Light Warlpiri grammar and phonology, and show how they combine in the new system. I will then turn to how speakers manage their multilingual repertoires, including differentiation between languages, interesting given that some properties of Light Warlpiri and Warlpiri overlap. Differentiation is seen in verbal structure, nominal morphology, phonotactics and lexical choices. Speaker practices include code-switching between Light Warlpiri and Warlpiri, which aids the maintenance of Warlpiri. Finally I  will address a mechanism of language change in multilingual contexts, arguing for a two-stage model of change, where consistent input from adults is taken up by children and altered incrementally through known processes of first language acquisition.


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