The Interface Hypothesis as a framework for studying L1 attrition

Gloria Chamorro, Antonella Sorace

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter focuses on first generation individual attrition from the point of view of the Interface Hypothesis (IH), which proposes that structures at the interface between syntax and other cognitive domains, such as pragmatics, are more likely to undergo attrition than structures that do not involve such an interface, and discusses recent research that provides evidence of the selectivity and reversibility of individual first language (L1) attrition. This research provides supporting evidence for the IH as it reveals that attrition affects structures at the syntax-pragmatics interface but not structures requiring the satisfaction of semantic conditions. This chapter also reviews research that supports Sorace’s (2011, 2016) proposal that individual L1 attrition affects only the ability to process interface structures but not knowledge representations, as it reveals that attrition only affects online sensitivity with structures at the syntax-pragmatics interface rather than causing a permanent change in speakers’ L1 knowledge representations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Language Attrition
EditorsMonika S. Schmid, Barbara Köpke
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780198793595
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jul 2019

Publication series

NameOxford Handbooks
PublisherOxford University Press


  • interface hypothesis
  • syntax-pragmatics interface
  • individual L1 attrition
  • selectivity of attrition
  • reversibility of attrition
  • L1 re-exposure


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