The Syntax, Processing and Second Language Acquisition of Chinese Relative Clauses
Committee ChairHarley, Heidi
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe structural complexity and the typological universals associated with relative clauses (RCs) have made the structure particularly interesting to linguists and second language acquisition (SLA) researchers. Currently, much controversy is found in RCs in East Asian Languages. This dissertation tests the syntactic status of "relative clauses" in Chinese and explores second language (L2) learners' processing and production of different types of Chinese RCs.In the theoretical part of the dissertation, I test whether Comrie (2002)'s proposal of analyzing putative relative clauses in East Asian languages as "attributive clauses" can be applicable to Chinese. From a review of syntactic literature and movement test, I argue that there are crucial differences between Chinese RCs and attributive clauses. Further, reconstruction effect suggests that A-bar movement takes place within gapped Chinese RCs. More specifically, following Sauerland (2000)'s proposal, I suggest that the derivation of Chinese RCs involves the movement of an operator taking a complex NP as its complement to the Spec of CP, and that complex NP matches with an external head outside the RC.Further, I examine the possibility of analyzing AdjP+DE structure as relative clauses, and examine the flexibility and effect of demonstrative and numeral-classifier positions and their relation with relative clauses.In the experiment chapter, I discuss results from three experiments that tested the relative degrees of difficulty for L2 learners among different types of RCs including Subject, Direct Object, Indirect Object and Object of Preposition relative clauses, I seek plausible linguistic and psycholinguistic proposals in explaining the performance data. The experiments include a self-paced word order judgment task, a written sentence completion task, and a written sentence combination task. It was found that the L2 acquisition of Chinese RCs is generally consistent with the Noun Phrase Accessibility Hierarchy (Keenan & Comrie, 1977), a typological generalization based on natural languages and a hierarchy that was found to be predictive of learners' order of acquisition in SLA studies of many other languages.
Degree ProgramSecond Language Acquisition & Teaching