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4. The extensions of the 'Labovian' model of Dickerson (1974, 1975) and Tarone (1983) suggest that IL variation results from the differing degrees of attention paid to language form by the learner on different tasks. One point should be clear at the outset: all the theories in the 'inner processing' group will have the same problem in meeting our first criterion: namely, it is virtually impossible to obtain empirical evidence to prove that the processes of the mind operate in this way rather than that way.

The Littlewood and 'discourse domains' Page 20 theories, for example, have been presented in only the barest of outlines, and require a great deal more consistency in maintaining the key distinctions proposed (see Tarone, 1988, for details). The most thoroughly developed of these theories, and the one which best meets our third criterion, is Speech Accommodation Theory. Thus, the 'sociolinguistic and discourse' theories fall short because they violate criterion 3: they are unclear and lack consistency.

The variability that is evident in language use at a given point in time. In the second section I shall try to relate the different sources of variation to the process of SLA by examining what is sometimes called vertical variation. My overall Page 23 aim is to argue that variability is an integral characteristic of interlanguage and that in order to understand how SLA proceeds it is necessary to recognise this and to build explanatory models that take account of it. Part One: Sources of Intra-Learner Variability in Language Use Variability in language use is the result of a complex set of interrelating factors.

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