Comparing lexical aspect and narrative discourse in second language learners' tense-aspect morphology: A cross sectional study of Japanese as a second language
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe current study has attempted to answer the question whether there is an interaction between the Aspect Hypothesis and the Discourse Hypothesis by investigating the use of Japanese tense-aspect morphology by native speakers of English learning Japanese as L2. These two hypotheses were argued for independently in previous studies, but never consolidated to account for the distributional pattern of L2 tense-aspect morphology. The Aspect Hypothesis claims that the L1 and L2 learners initially mark lexical aspect of the verbs with tense-aspect morphology; they tend to associate past with achievement verbs and progressive with activity verbs. On the other hand, according to the Discourse Hypothesis, the learners use the tense-aspect morphology to distinguish grounding; they tend to mark foreground with past more frequently than background. The current research used two methods: a multiple-choice task and a storytelling task. The former task was referred to as Study 1. The use of tense-aspect morphology in the story-telling task was analyzed in terms of lexical aspect, referred to as Study 2 and grounding, referred to as Study 3. Study 1 and Study 2 examined whether the use of tense-aspect morphology is different in obligatory contexts and in narrative discourse. The results of Study 1 supported the Aspect Hypothesis; L2 learners initially associated past inflection with achievement verbs and tended to mark the process encoded in activity and accomplishment verbs with present durative. The results of Study 2 supported the Aspect Hypothesis as regards the association of activity verbs and present durative. However, the frequent marking of past on achievement verbs across the proficiency levels suggest that the textual function of tense-aspect morphology plays a role in narrative discourse. Study 3 argued that the Japanese tense-aspect morphology weakly mark grounding. Finally, I claimed that the Aspect Hypothesis and the Discourse Hypothesis account for the different acquisition stages of the L2 tense-aspect system. There is a time lag among the tense-aspect morphemes in the process of acquisition; past marking functions as the temporal and textual device in narrative discourse at the relatively early stage while present durative remains as the marker of lexical aspect.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Second Language Acquisition and Teaching
Degree GrantorUniversity of Arizona
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