Richard Young


My name is Richard Young and that is spelled R-I-C-H-A-R-D Y-O-U-N-G and I’m affiliated with the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

The idea of interlanguage, uh, developed as a result of work that was done in the 1970’s, early 1970’s. Before interlanguage as a concept or even the word came along, there was, uh, the belief that learners simply made mistakes. That clearly, learning a second language was a difficult, uh, thing to do and one--one cer--one certainly made mistakes in that. Um, it was a--a--the kind of--the kind of mistakes that language--language learners made was studied and this was called, in those days, an error analysis. And then, uh, it--it--people ca--came to realize that--that, um, people were making mistakes in a systematic sort of way. Um, and that, uh, people who had a training in linguistics could see that they were not simply speaking a bad version of English, if they were learners of English, but they were speaking, uh, something which had rules of its own, um, and that’s why Larry Solenka (ph) came up with the--the word interlanguage, there were a couple of other terms which were very similar at that time, um, but the idea of interlanguage is that we study the learner’s language almost as a system in its own right. Clearly, we compare it with the native language and clearly we compare it with the target language, but we do try to analyze it in--in an independent light. So that’s, I think, what we mean be interlanguage. It’s sort of, you know, just like a--a linguist analyzing a--uh, an independent language. The--the question of variation, uh, is--is--is very relevant to interlanguage. Variation, essentially, means something that everybody does, no matter what language they speak, uh, no matter what first language or what other language they--or languages they speak, we all vary. Um, so for example, uh, in English we often vary between the pronunciation of i-n-g, endings of words. For example, the word sitting, um, is sometimes--sometimes people pronounce it sittin’, with an ‘n’ and sometimes they pronounce it sitting with an n-g. Um, now is this just, you know, is it just the--the sun and the moon and the mood you’re in? Is that the--the--the reason why you sometimes say sittin’, sometimes say sitting? Uh, those of us who have studied variation have seen that actually it--it is really quite systematic. That, in fact, uh, for that example of sittin’ and sitting, uh, people are more likely to say, ‘I’m sittin’ down’ with an ‘n’, sittin’ down, and they’re more likely to say, ‘He’s sitting up,’ as in sitting up in bed, for example, with the i-n-g. So, one of the things that was noticed about, uh, variation, uh, in--in--in four languages was that it depended on the context in which a particular form occurred as to where this--i--uh, how the variation happened. Now, when people started applying these insights from, uh, studies of--of--of first languages to the study of interlanguage, they realized that the fact that learners sometimes make a mistake in a certain way, sometimes make, uh, uh, don’t make the mistake generally is related to the context in which that--that mistake is made. So, uh, many teachers have been--uh, have experienced teaching a class of pronunciation and getting students to try and pro--pronounce the ‘th’ sound in English as in thin, uh, thick and during the--the context of the class the--the teacher may be lucky and get the majority of the students to say the ‘th’ with the correct pronunciation. The--then, uh, uh, the class is over and the students go out into the hallway and you--the stu--the teacher walks by and is crestfallen when she hears them saying sin and sick instead of thin and thick. Um, but I would suggest that the teachers shouldn’t feel crestfallen because it’s quite natural that, uh, uh, language varies from one particular context to another. So in a--in--in a situation in which you’re paying a lot of attention to what you’re saying, you may say a form in a particular way whereas when you are saying it in another situation which you’re not paying attention, you may say it in a different way.

The idea of errors being systematic rather than random, um, came about as a result of--of--of people studying or studying what learners said and wrote for the first time because historically, before that, um, the--the main thrust of second language acquisition was, uh, OK, I am a native speaker of Arabic and I am learning English and what--what researchers did was they would compare the particular structures of Arabic with the particular structures of English and they would predict on the basis of that what was, uh, what was likely to cause difficulty because differences were believed to cause difficulty. After that came the--the--the period when people were--were--were--were--were really trying to analyze what--what people said, um, and when--when you--when you try--wh--as a linguist, when you try to analyze what somebody says, one is always amazed at how systematic their--their production becomes. What seems to be crazy and unsystematic and totally irregular on the surface, when you look at it in detail, uh, and you apply the--the--the tools of analysis of linguistics, you can make sense of a lot of the reasons why people are making particular errors in particular ways. Not everything. There is a degree of randomness about it, but, uh, many of the--of the errors, uh, can be, uh--uh--uh attributed to--to certain causes.

Um, when we look at, uh, the way learners vary in their choice of a particular word or their--their use of a particular grammatical structure or their pronunciation of a particular sound, uh, what we find is that there is a relationship between the context in which that particular form is produced and the--the sound it’s--it’s-it’s, uh--uh, th--the sound or--or the form itself. Um, so, for example, the, um, uh-uh, the--the wo--the early work on variation in second language acquisition concentrated very much on whether people were paying attention to what they were saying and it was found out that generally, uh, if there was a high degree of attention to speech, then, um, uh, people would tend to make certain sorts of--uh, produce certain sorts of forms whereas if they were not paying attention or paying less attention, uh, then they would--they would produce fewer forms. The other--so--so--so that is, to a certain extent, is a cognitive explanation. That is there’s something happening inside the learner’s mind brain and the processing mechanism, which leads to production, which, uh, produces--which--which--you can attribute as a cause to--to some of the variation. But some of the other patterns of variation don’t really have a cognitive explanation. Uh, very often it is simply, uh, the--the context--uh, that is the linguistic context, in which a particular form occurs, um, that, uh, gives rise to--to a particular form. Um, uh, so you know in--in a--in a--in--in--in sentences, um, uh, in which an article is--is omitted, for example, um, uh, the article may be omitted, um, uh, for the ex--example it might be the article ‘the’ it may be omitted in the context in which ‘the’ is hard to pronounce together with other words. Um, and it may be pronounced a little bit more in context in which it’s slightly easier to pronounce. Um, another--another theory which has been put forward to--to try to account for--for variation in--in second language acquisition and second language use is the idea of--of redundancy. That’s been very popular. Um, for example, when we look at, uh, the plural ‘s,’ you know, uh, two boys, uh, three horses, uh, five--um, five toys, things like that. Um, many learners will simply omit the ‘s’ and people have--have suggested that one of the reasons why they do that is because the notion of plurality is already encoded in those phrases in the--in the numeral. So, two boys, why not say ‘two boy’ because you’ve already said two so the--the boy--the ‘s’ is--is--is--is redundant. Um, that actually doesn’t work unfortunately because in my own work, what I’ve found is that rather than, um, uh--uh, sort of simplify the forms in--in order to--to make them less redundant, what learners tend to do is they tend to--the--the--the--once they have got the idea of a plural, for example, that will trigger a lot of other, uh--uh, markings of plural in their speech. So it is more likely, I have found, for learners to say ‘two boys’ than for them to say ‘two boy.’ If they say two, they’ll say boys.

Uh, my--my own belief about stages of acquisition is that the--the--the process of acquisition is a very complex process. Um, and those researchers who have said there are certain stages in the acquisition of--of--of interrogatives, for example, or in the acquisition of word order, I--I have total confidence that what they have found is correct, however, the--um, the--the context in which a particular form is produced may not be the--the contexts that correspond to a particular stage in the developmental sequence. So I would not be in favor, myself, of sequencing language teaching materials or a language teaching curriculum in a way that, uh--uh--uh, mirrors some of these developmental stages. I would not be in favor of that because I think that one of the--the--the--the great forces which drives acquisition is the learner’s perception of how useful or, uh--not how useful necessarily, but--but--but--but--but--but what kind of an identity that, uh--uh, the acquisition of a language is going to give to that person. And i--if--if--if--if questions of identity and--and questions of motivation can be addressed in a course, then I think these--these develop--developmental stages will become much, much less important than--than if we look at them simply from the point of view of acquiring syntax.

What do we know today, uh, about the nature of interlanguage? Um, and what do we--where should the field be moving in terms of, uh, our understanding of interlanguage? I--I--I think that our understanding of interlanguage is as it always has been, a purely linguistic phenomenon, that is, that in--in dealing with interlanguage we’re talking about language forms. We’re talking about grammatical structures. We’re talking about phonological forms. We’re talking about, uh--uh lexical (ph) patterns and things like that. And, um, what we have in terms of our present knowledge of interlanguage is really quite a--a--a--a--a detailed view of, um, the--the--the--the--the forms that a learner from a particular background is likely to use and learn--and--and use as--in a particular context. Um, and I--I think our--our syntactic analysis have become much more sophisticated these days, um, so I think we have a much greater and deeper understanding of what these--uh--uh, of what these forms do and how they pattern. Where the field, to me, is inadequate is in the sense that, um, interlanguage is not only--what--what a learner does with a second language is not all about the forms of the language it’s about how the language is used in interactions about--it’s about how the language is used in writing to communicate. It is about how, uh, um, a learner is influenced by other people, how a learner attempts to influence other people and--and this--these areas of face-to-face interaction are, I don’t think, uh--uh--uh, addressed, uh, adequately in a theory of interlanguage which--which focuses only on form, so I would like to see, um, much more emphasis in the future on how, um, formal areas of knowledge of language, that is the grammar and the vocabulary and--and the pronunciation are related to contexts of use.

The idea of interactional competence really comes out of--um, uh, it comes out of, uh, uh, the study of anthropology, um, and it st--it comes out of the idea that, um, in--in many--uh, uh, in many different societies the ways that people interact are very, very different. And we don’t have to go very far, we don’t have to go to the ends of the earth to find, uh, uh, societies wh--which interact--whose individuals interact in different ways, uh--uh, from us and we can--we can go to different parts of the United States and we can see different patterns of interaction among--among natives. We can go from, uh, California, a dinner party in California to a dinner party in New York City and although the people are--are using the same language, the patterns of interaction have been described as--as--as really quite different. So, in talking about interactional competence, what we’re trying to get at is, um, uh, there are certain practices that, um, individuals do in face-to-face interaction, could also be non face-to-face, for example, over the phone or something like that, but--but generally we’ve been--we’ve been focusing on face-to-face interaction and these practices are of cultural value in the society in which they occur. Because they’re cultural val--they are of cultural value they have names. So, for example, an interview is a--a practice which, uh--uh--uh, we are engaging in right now. Um, and we--uh, because we have been--uh--uh--uh, spent many--many years in the same society, uh, we have, uh, different views--uh, we have the same view of--of what an interview is. Now, um, so when you say the word interview and when I say the word interview, we mean vaguely the same thing. Now in terms of the actual patterns of interaction, uh, anthropological linguists have shown that--that--that, uh, certain things--uh, there are certain things about an interview that don’t seem to be, uh, apparent, uh, uh, immediately. Um, one of these is how does a--how does an interview begin? How does it end? We, as competent members of a particular community know how to begin and end things, uh, but--that--that we weren’t born with that knowledge, uh, and we acquired it in some way. We also know, um, in a particular practice, like an interview, uh, uh, the rules of taking turns in the interview. So, uh, for example, if we were both, uh, to talk together at the same time then we would probably not be having an interview, it would probably be something else, um, uh, uh--another valuable cultural practice, but probably not an interview. There are also certain participant roles in, uh, a practice like an interview, uh, and--and the roles are, for example, there is often one person in an interview who has the role of initiation, that is who, uh--um--uh, who asks the questions and there is another person who co-constructs the interview by answering those questions. So the roles of the participants are different. Um, and then, uh, another way in which, uh, an interview is constructed as--as a practice is in terms of the sequence of topics that--that go through the practice. So, in all--so--so--so when we are--are talking about a particularly, uh--uh--uh, em--uh, a particularly, uh--a practice of cultural value to the society we have all these--all this implicit knowledge of what it is. Um, what is fascinating is when we move to a different community, the practice itself may not even be recognized, they may not have a name for it. Uh, um, uh, or--or more likely, as it’s such a small world these days, um, they--there will be a translation equivalent of the name for such a thing as an interview, but, um, the rules for that interview will be very, very different. For example, a job interview. In Britain, uh, when you go for a job interview you sit, uh, uh, behind a desk and there are people on the other side of the desk and they ask you lots and lots of questions and you answer those questions. When I came to the United States and I had my first interview for a faculty position in a--in American university I was expecting the same sort of thing to happen, to sit behind a desk and be fired--be peppered with questions by--by, uh, the--my--my future colleagues. That didn’t happen. In fact they asked me to ask them questions. So, even--I--I--I speak the same language as the people who are interviewing me, but I was not competent in that part--well, I--I don’t know whether I was competent, but I didn’t--I didn’t know the rules of the particular practice. Now these rules can be--uh, can be sometimes crucial when there--uh, there are, um, uh, important things which are--which depend on the practice and a job interview is one of them. Um, I--I saw, uh, uh, an example recently of, um, uh, non-native speakers of English who were being refused--uh, who were not being hired, uh, to a particular, uh, position, uh, that was advertised and one of the reasons was because when the--uh, the interviewer asked them, uh, you know, where--where have you--what have your pr--previous jobs been, they, uh, seem--they--they--they gave very short answers and they didn’t give specifics about their previous jobs. Now, I interpreted that to mean that the people who are going for the interview, the people who are trying to get a job, were looking on the interviewer as their champion, as it were, as a person who would be the--a counselor for them, a sort of person who would take their--their side in negotiations with the company, however, the interviewer did not see her role in that way. She saw her role as a gatekeeper, that is, she wanted to see whether these people were reliable and--and had good employment history. So I think even with something which is quite so a--as widespread as an interview, the--the--the ways that people, uh, interact and the rules that people, um, uh, uh, understand of a particular practice can vary and can vary to the detriment of people who are new to the society.

Um, conversational styles, um, are--are very complex, um, and there are many things which go to make up a conversational style. Uh, one thing that one notices straight away in conversational style is how one sits is--is some nonverbal information. So, the way I am sitting like right now is one aspect of my style of speaking. The way I’m speaking--speaking right--sitting right now, for example, is another aspect of the--of conversational style and this way of sitting would be quite appropriate for some context, but probably not, uh, at a more formal context such as this one. So nonverbal information is very important. For example, sitting face to face, like this, uh, it’s been well--well remarked that, um, uh, that, uh, females, uh, uh, in--in the United States tend, when they’re speaking face to face, to face each other. Whereas men, when, uh, they are speaking together, face to face, they tend not to face each other. They tend to look at a common distant point so they--they tend to be side by side. That’s one of the reasons that, uh, the video games are so popular among boys because they are based--because a boy sits side by side and they focus on something separate and--and that is, uh--uh, a part of their--their--their, well, some of their natural styles. So--so, nonverbal communication--nonverbal behavior is--is an important part of conversational style. Another por--uh, important part of a conversational style is--um, uh, is the--the--the--the--the ideological value that a particular way of speaking has. We live in complex societies with people who have different accesses to--uh, to money, to, uh, desirable resources and, um, most of us have, uh, ideologies about people. There are some groups of people that we like, there are some groups of people that we don’t like so much. So if we, in our conversational style--i--if a person in a conversational style adopts a style to which we are ideologically well disposed, then that will tend to, uh, help, uh, the person communicate. On the other hand, if that person adopts a conversational style which is similar to a group that we do not hold as--as very--uh--uh--uh--uh, very highly in our estimation, then, uh, that way of speaking, uh, will impede our conv--our--our understanding because it will be--we will see it through the--the rather more shady lenses than we would normally, uh, look at something. So, it’s both, um, the nonverbal information, it’s also the--uh--uh, the ideology that we have of ways of speaking and conversational style as many other things as well. It is also how--how much people talk. Uh, in--in American society, especially among American professors, I mean we all talk a tremendous amount, but there are some cases, uh, and some societies and some contexts where, uh, volubility, the talking a tremendous amount, is not regarded as--as desirable. And, uh, for example, um, uh, students who come from societies where students are not supposed to talk, they are supposed to listen to the professor and not--I mean, uh--uh, a question in class is seen as--as face threatening to the professor. These may be rather difficult to teach for American teachers. I’ve heard some ESL teachers talk about students a--and they said, ‘Oh, that class is like pulling teeth,’ and what they mean is they--that these--the conversational style of my students is not the conversational style that I’m expecting. That is, for example, they are--they are much, much less talkative than I want them to be.

Um, in society in general an awareness of the patterns of language is--is a way in which we can understand our fellow human beings so much more. It’s so important because we all have values which are--which, uh--uh, you know, we have values which we express in the economic terms and but--but we often have values that we express as a result of the way so--somebody speaks. So any linguistic understanding of the way somebody speaks is, in my mind, is--is--it’s a way to--to greater understanding. Um, I am not suggesting that, uh, learners, uh, adopt the conversational styles of the communities that they are in. On the other hand I am suggesting that learners beware of--or, rather not beware, be aware of the meanings that they are projecting in conversational interaction as the result of a particular conversational style which is not the style of the dominant group in the--uh, uh, in--in--in the, uh, in the society. Now that can be to their advantage, it can be to their disadvantage, but they should be aware of what the effect is. In--in terms of--of a--of--of a class, uh, that a teacher has to--has to work with, I--I think experienced teachers are very aware of the difference in conversational styles of their students. It’s--it’s hard, though, for--for inexperienced teachers, uh, to realize how--how different the conversational styles are among their students. And they may say, ‘Well, you know, so and so, you know, I’ll--I’ll--I’ll give her a low grade because she doesn’t speak much in class.’ But that may simply be, not because she doesn’t know English, but because she doesn’t think it’s appropriate for her to speak a lot in class.

Um, learners of a second language are always faced with problems of not understanding what they hear or what they read, I mean we all are, no matter how much language we--we --we--know. Um, but learners are--are--are faced with, uh, the problem more often than, uh, we who are native speakers of the language. And there are two ways in which you can--you can approach that problem. One is, um, you can simplify the input that the learners receive. So, for example, many publishing houses put out simplified readers, you know, in which the--the vocabulary is--is regarded--is--is simplified in a certain way so you might have a--have a--have a--a classic of British literature but it’s written in only--we--using only two thousand words. Um, so--so what you can do, uh, both in writing and in speaking, is you can simplify. So, if I slow down (speaking slowly) and I use only words that are within the first 2,000 words that students learn, then, perhaps, that is--uh, uh, that is--that makes the task of comprehension for a learner, uh, uh, easier. But, you can’t do that. I mean you can’t, uh, as a learner you can’t control what input you get, you know. Does that mean., you know, you’re only going to read the simplified readers or you’re only going to talk to people who speak like this (speaks slowly). Well, you can’t do that. I mean, you know, you’re going to have a strange bunch of friends I think. Um, but, uh, so--so what--what learner--the problem that learners are fa--uh, faced with, um, in interaction is, OK, you’re just a normal speaker to me and, uh, you say something I don’t understand what you’re saying. What on earth is she talking about? So, what do I do? Now, I can just sort of sit here and--and smile and--and--and look at that and--and--and give you the impression that I understand, but, of course, I don’t. Or, um, I can try to use some interactional modifications in the conversation that allow us--uh, allow me to try to, uh, understand the words that I--I wouldn’t normally understand. One way of doing that is simply to ask what do you mean. So, if somebody’s talking about, you know, oh, this is a very beautiful` (mumbles) in this room. I--I beg your pardon. What did you say? It’s a very beautiful what? Oh, it’s a beautiful rug. Oh, OK. So, you can do that by means of a clarification request. Um, you can, uh, try as a learner also to--uh, to re--repeat a candidate understanding of a particular, uh, uh, something that you think you hear. So, with that same example, this is a very nice (mumbles) in this room, and the learner might say, uh, ‘This is very nice wallpaper in this room?’ Uh, uh, you know with a--with a question intonation and then the--the person, uh, who--who the learner’s talking to might say, ‘No, no, not wallpaper, rug.’ OK. So, the learner themselves can modify the interaction by means of either, uh, uh, uh, asking for clarification or by means of putting forward a candidate understanding, but the other person who is talking to the learner can also do that by means of checking whether the learner has understood. So, if--if, you know, if I’m the person who’s talking to the learner and I’m saying, uh, ‘This is a very--uh, this is a beautiful beige carpet in this room,’ and I say, ‘You--you do know beige, do you? I mean beige that’s sort of--you know beige? You know what I mean by beige?’ And the learner would say, ‘Yeah, sure I know beige. It’s kind of like brown and yellow.’ Or the learner might say, ‘Beige? What is beige? I don’t know beige.’ In that case, uh, the--it would be incumbent on the speaker to--to give some--some--some modification of--of the word beige so that the student can understand it. So, it’s by ne--by means of these interactional modifications that learners can make, um, input more comprehensible to themselves.

The, uh, le--as--as adults learning a second language or even as older children learning a second language, um, we don’t start from square one, uh, we start already knowing, um, a first language. And the knowledge of that first language and what we do with that first language certainly influences, uh, what we know and how we go about learning the second language. And, uh, a--a clear, uh, uh, a very obvious, uh, uh, version of that is, um, pronunciation. Uh, almost everybody who starts to learn a foreign language, um, has a--a--a--a--a an accent in that language. When I was, uh, a young man I went to Italy. I could not pronounce the Italian ro--trilled double ‘r.’ (trills) I can do it now. (trills) Um, and I couldn’t s--say the word for beer in Italian, uh, be--because the word for beer in Italian is beerrrr. (‘r’ is trilled) So, I would go into a--a bar and I’d ask for a, in my bad accent, I would say a beer-a. A beer-a. Rah. I would use the English ‘rah.’ Um, and the barman would always say, ‘Sorry?’ And I would never get what I wanted. I had to go through this long rigmarole in order simply to get a beer and I ended up stopping. I--I gave up drinking because I just couldn’t get what I wanted. So, there is a clear--I mean we’ve all experienced this, I think, you know, in--in--in whatever circumstance we’ve been and that is clearly an influence of the first language on the second language. Th--in--in other aspects of, uh, of second language learning, the influence of the first language is more complex. That is, as we get more into a second language, then it’s not simply that we--we immediately just transfer what we have from the first language into the second language, but we have some knowledge in the second language itself and as a result of that we may overgeneralize, make other sort of errors which have nothing to do with--with--with transfer. But another area which is very susceptible to transfer from the first language is the area of pragmatics. Um, and that is, uh, uh, how you influence the--the behavior or--or the beliefs of other people by what you say. How you get things done. (clears throat) How you make--make people believe a certain thing. So, for example, a--uh, a simple thing like, uh, refusing a request, OK? Would you like a cup of tea? Uh, uh, no, thank you. Now, that seems to be a very straightforward thing to say. No, thank you, I mean that’s, you know, that’s a very easy thing to say. But, the problem of pragmatics, of course, is that the--the--the notion of, um, uh, uh, having an effect on other people is very much a culturally--a--a--a--a--a cultural notion which is located in the society in which that--that cultures exists. So there maybe situations in another society in which refusing an offer of something is regarded as extremely rude. So, uh, students may find it very hard to do a simple thing like refuse an offer in English simply because the offer is being made by, perhaps, a high status person like, you know, an--a--an older person or a--or a teacher or an employer or something like that and they think that by refusing it they will construe themselves as--as--as rude and that is--that is very much transfer. And because these things, you know, are not--they don’t seem to be obvious, uh, the--there’s not awful--often not a lot of--of--of explicit instruction in it and then these things can tend to stick around.

That--that’s your last question on the--on the sheet, yes, and I think that’s--that’s, uh, I’m--I’m glad I got the opportunity to talk about that because I--uh, uh--I think that, um, the field of second language acquisition has always been a--a field which has been influenced by other fields and the--the--the field which has influenced second language acquisition more than any other is simply linguistics. So, if you--if you pick up, uh, one of the--the main textbooks in second language acquisition there’s an awful lot of linguistics in that book and that--that’s quite reasonable because, you know, second language acquisition is a language, but I think we realize these days that--that in--in using a language in real communication there’s much more to it than simply looking at linguistic form. That we really have to look at the cultural values, uh, which are included in a particular--uh, uh, in a particular interaction, how they’re expressed, how people understand, uh, uh, each other, not simply from the words that they say, but how these words are structured in an interaction. So, I think the idea of interactional competence is a--is a--an area in which we should go and interactional competence is--uh, is basically coming to the field from anthropology. Uh, and it’s because we know more a--now about how the cultural values of different societies that we can appreciate interactional competence more and it’s also coming to us as a result of conversation analysis. Um, the work in discourse analysis and conversation analysis in the past 20 or 30 years has been tremendous and as a result of that we know far more about the--the very, very finely tuned, uh, aspects of conversational interaction and we can use that knowledge and we can use the anthropological knowledge in order to understand, uh, much better how interactions, uh, occur, um, and how to teach them.

Um, the--the field, any field, I think is inevitably divided into different socializations. That is because the people who create the knowledge in the fields, the people who acquire new knowledge in the field are human beings and they have a limited understanding. You know, some people might be good at math, some people might be good at tennis. Some people might be good at talking, some may--people might be good at writing. Some people might be more interested in anthropology, some people might be more interested in sociology. Some people might be more interested in linguistics. And, um, the fact that there is no overarching theory of the field of second language acquisition I think is inevitable. I don’t think there is any overarching theory of any social field. There might be for--for fields in the physical science, I don’t know, um, and--and that is because each of us comes to it with a--a--a particular way of--of conceiving of the field. So if you go to different conferences in the field you will be surprised that all the--the--the conferences have very different foci (?). So, the--the American Association for Applied Linguistics conference, um, is very much, uh, focused on discourse analysis and social issues in second language acquisition. Uh, a conference like the Second Language Research Forum is much more concentrated on the syntactic, uh, aspects, but the same people go to both conferences. (laughs)