What's in the textbook and what's in the mind: polarity item "any" in learner English

Heather Marsden, Melinda Whong, Kook-hee Gil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents an experimental study of the rarely explored question of how input through instruction interacts with L2 acquisition at the level ofmodular linguistic knowledge. The investigation focuses on L2 knowledge of the English polarity itemany, whose properties are only partially covered by typical language-teaching materials. We investigate Najdi-Saudi Arabic-speaking learners' knowledge of the distribution of any in contexts that are taught, contexts that are not taught but may be observable in the input, and contexts that are neither taught nor observable. We further test whether conscious awareness of instructed rules about any correlates with performance. Our findings suggest a role for instruction and for internal, UG-constrained acquisition, and that these two paths interact.We explore our findings in terms of SharwoodSmithandTruscott's (2014a, 2014b) framework ofmodular online growth and use of language, in which cognitive development is driven by processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-118
Number of pages28
JournalStudies in Second Language Acquisition
Issue number1
Early online date9 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018

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