AuthorSuh, Hee Seung
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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EmbargoRelease after 1-Dec-2018
AbstractThis study aims to investigate how second language (L2) learners’ first language (L1) affects the acquisition of locative phrases in Chinese by examining the performance of L2 Chinese learners with different L1s (L1 English and L1 Korean learners). Locative phrases in Chinese introduced by preposition zài ‘at’ can occur in two positions in a sentence: between a subject and a verb (preverbal position); after a verb (postverbal position). A preverbal locative phrase indicates the general location where an event happens. However, a postverbal locative phrase occurs with restrictions (Li and Thompson, 1981; Liu, 2009) and carries a distinctive semantic function indicating the location where an action ends up (Fan, 1986). These characteristics of locative phrases in Chinese cause difficulties for L2 learners. In the field of Chinese as Second Language or Foreign Language, the preposition zài ‘at’ is the most frequent preposition, but it also incurs the most errors among learners’ usage (Ding and Shen, 2001; Zhao, 2000). It has been assumed L1 Influence is the main contributing factor (Cui, 2005; Ding and Shen, 2001), but to date relatively little empirical research has been done. The present study compares the performance between two L1 groups. The participants were studying Chinese as a foreign language in the US and in South Korea respectively. Three experiments were conducted: a grammaticality judgment, a picture-meaning match, and an open-ended short essay. The grammaticality judgment experiment was designed to investigate how learners’ L1 affects their judgment of grammaticality; the picture-meaning match experiment explored learners’ knowledge on meaning differences between preverbal and postverbal locative phrases; the open-ended short essay experiment examined L1 influence on the use of locative phrases in learners’ writings. Performance of the participants was compared in three ways, following the methodology suggested by Jarvis (2000): within each L1 group (intra L1 group), between L1 English and L1 Korean (inter L1 group), and between each learner group and the NS group (inter L1 group congruity). Results show that L1 influence is significant only when there is a mismatch between L1 and L2. The results confirm that preverbal locative phrases are acquired earlier than postverbal locative phrases, regardless of learners’ L1. Possible factors that may affect the acquisition sequence of Chinese locative phrases were also discussed. This study also finds evidence of avoidance (Laufer and Eliasson, 1993) in the usage of postverbal locative phrases among L1 Korean learners.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
East Asian Studies