Acquisition of Causative Directed Manner of Motion by English-speaking Learners of Chinese
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis study aims to explore how English-speaking learners of Chinese acquire directed manner of motion. The thesis consists of six chapters with three major parts: firstly, a linguistic analysis to account for the Chinese-English differences in licensing causative directed manner of motion events; secondly, a second language acquisition study informed by a picture acceptability judgment task and a translation task; and thirdly, a brief discussion of the pedagogical implications of this study in teaching Chinese as a foreign language.The causative directed manner of motion events in Chinese behave differently from their counterparts in English. While the causatives of transitive and intransitive use of manner of motion verbs share similar syntactic structures in English, for example, John walked Mary to her car., John kicked the ball to the wall., their counterparts in Chinese display distinctively different surface structures. As a result of my dissatisfaction with the initial analysis with Talmy's (1975&1985) conflation typologies and Slobin's (1996&2004) three-way proposal, I adopted another approach formulated within the Parameters and Principles Theory (Chomsky and Lasnik, 1993), namely the light verb analysis (Huang, 1997&Lin, 2001) to explicate the Chinese-English distinctions in licensing complex motion events. Following Huang (1997&2006) and Lin's (2001) proposal, I argue that the argument structure of the causative directed motion is licensed via several light verbs at the syntactic level (S-syntax) in Chinese, and at the sub-syntactic level (L-syntax) in English. The manner of motion verbs in English undergo a full conflation in the lexical computation and enter the syntax with full-fledged functions to formulate the phrase structure of a causative directed motion. However, the argument structure of causative directed motion in Mandarin Chinese is realized with the light verb ba for the causative sub-event, the light verb zhe for the accompanied action, and the light verb dao for the goal of the motion.These cross-linguistic variations pose at least two questions regarding English-speaking learners of Chinese: (1) how do they acquire ways to describe causative directed motion in the target language; (2) if and/or when do they actually become aware of the parameter setting distinctions (L-syntax versus S-syntax). The results of the present acquisition study are informed by a picture grammaticality judgment and a translation task from a pilot study. A total number of seventy-three participants completed the study. Forty of them were native speakers of Chinese, serving as the control group. The other thirty-three were English-speaking learners of Chinese which were placed within two proficiency groups. Four acquisition patterns were identified based on a two-way repeated measures ANOVA.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
East Asian Studies