Language Transfer and Cross Linguistic Studies: Relativism, Universalism, and the Native Language

Terence Odlin

in The Oxford Handbook of Applied Linguistics

Second edition

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780195384253
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Language Transfer and Cross Linguistic Studies: Relativism, Universalism, and the Native Language

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This article takes an account of language transfer and cross-linguistic studies. Its relativism, universalism, and the native language are the focal point. Language transfer, or cross-linguistic influence, has long been a topic that many in applied linguistics have pondered, even though some have doubted its importance. In recent work on transfer, two different orientations have been prominent—one universalist and the other relativist. Although these orientations are opposed to each other in certain ways, research on both relativism and universalism intersects with the study of cross-linguistic influence. This article emphasizes the significance of the relativist orientation, but it also contends that any thorough understanding of transfer and universals necessitates a broad view of what characterizes all human languages. The link between relativism and transfer has recently received increased attention, but earlier research also considered that possibility. Studies of cross-linguistic influence may attract the interest of anyone concerned with the study of language.

Keywords: language transfer; relativism; cross-linguistic; universalism; applied linguistics

Article.  4483 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Language Acquisition

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