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An interlanguage is an emerging linguistic system that has been developed by a learner of a second language who has not become fully proficient yet but is only approximating the target language: preserving some features of their first language in speaking or writing the target language and creating innovations. An interlanguage is idiosyncratically based on the learners' experiences with the L2. It can fossilize in any of its developmental stages. The learner creates an interlanguage using different learning strategies such as language transfer, overgeneralisation and simplification.

Interlanguage is based on the theory that there is a "psychological structure latent in the brain" which is activated when one attempts to learn a second language. Larry Selinker proposed the theory of interlanguage in 1972, noting that in a given situation the utterances produced by the learner are different from those native speakers would produce had they attempted to convey the same meaning. This comparison reveals a separate linguistic system. This system can be observed when studying the utterances of the learners who attempt to produce a target language norm.

To study the psychological processes involved one should compare the interlanguage of the learner with two things:

  1. Utterances in the native language to convey the same message made by the learner
  2. Utterances in the target language to convey the same message made by the native speaker of that language.

An interlanguage is also a language that is used by speakers of different languages in order to be able to mutually communicate. Only two such interlanguages, Interlingua and Esperanto, have substantial speaking populations. A third interlanguage, Ido, has a smaller speaking population.

See alsoEdit

it:Interlingua (linguistica)
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