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LINGUIST List 16.3229

Tue Nov 08 2005

Diss: Language Acquisition: Jin: 'The Development of...'

Editor for this issue: Meredith Valant <meredithlinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Limin Jin, The Development of Aspect Marking in L2 Chinese by English Native Speakers

Message 1: The Development of Aspect Marking in L2 Chinese by English Native Speakers
Date: 08-Nov-2005
From: Limin Jin <jin_liminhotmail.com>
Subject: The Development of Aspect Marking in L2 Chinese by English Native Speakers

Institution: University of Cambridge
Program: Research Centre for English and Applied Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2003

Author: Limin Jin

Dissertation Title: The Development of Aspect Marking in L2 Chinese by English Native Speakers

Linguistic Field(s): Language Acquisition

Subject Language(s): Chinese, Mandarin (cmn)

Dissertation Director:
Richard Breheny
Henriƫtte Hendriks
Teresa Parodi

Dissertation Abstract:

The thesis presents a cross-sectional study of the development of aspect
marking in L2 Chinese by English native speakers. By using an acceptability
judgement test, a storytelling task and a multiple-choice test, the study
addresses three research questions: (1) What is the developmental sequence
in the acquisition of four aspect markers in Chinese: the perfective
markers guo and le, and the imperfective markers zai and zhe? (2) Does the
development of the L2 Chinese aspectual system follow the predictions of
the Aspect Hypothesis (AH), which has gained considerable support from
research in L2 Indo-European languages? (3) What factors may account for
the observed patterns of aspect marking in L2 Chinese? Moreover, since
Chinese native speakers have also participated in the investigation, their
data will corroborate and, more importantly, extend our knowledge of the
Chinese aspectual system.

Results from the study show that although it may be possible to identify an
order in the emergence of these aspect markers in the interlanguage, it is
hard to conclude on a clear sequence in the acquisition of them. The L2
learners seem to experience specific and unique problems associated with
each marker at different stages of the acquisition process. As for the
associations between situation and viewpoint aspects, the patterns in the
production data of the lower-intermediate (LI) learners, more or less,
confirm the predictions of the AH about the early L2 tense and aspectual
systems, although analyses of the acceptability judgement data show that
the LI learners, incorrectly, accept the combination of the perfective
marker VF-le with all situation types, indicating a strong influence from
the learners' L1. With progress in learners' L2 proficiency, the
interlanguage aspectual system does gradually approximate the target,
though not along the path predicted by the AH. The patterns in the use of
aspect markers by the upper-intermediate learners are more compatible with
the predicted initial patterns in L2 acquisition, which are also the
patterns found in the native speaker data. Based on these results, a
proposal for rephrasing the AH has been made. With regard to the factors
that may influence the L2 acquisition of Chinese aspect markers, the
developmental data in the present study suggest that the restructuring of
the aspectual system may result from an interaction of L1 interference,
exposure to the input, and frequency and semantic complexity of the aspect
markers in question.

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