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LINGUIST List 21.218

Thu Jan 14 2010

Diss: Lang Acq: Rogers: 'Syntactic Development in the Second...'

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        1.    Vivienne Rogers, Syntactic Development in the Second Language Acquisition of French by Instructed English Learners

Message 1: Syntactic Development in the Second Language Acquisition of French by Instructed English Learners
Date: 10-Jan-2010
From: Vivienne Rogers <vivienne.rogerseducation.ox.ac.uk>
Subject: Syntactic Development in the Second Language Acquisition of French by Instructed English Learners
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Institution: Newcastle University
Program: School of Modern Languages
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2009

Author: Vivienne Rogers

Dissertation Title: Syntactic Development in the Second Language Acquisition of French by Instructed English Learners

Linguistic Field(s): Language Acquisition

Subject Language(s): English (eng)
                            French (fra)

Dissertation Director:
Martha Young-Scholten
Florence Myles

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis empirically examines six theories of language acquisition by
considering the acquisition of French word order by instructed English
speaking learners.

French and English differ in terms of word order with respect to negation,
adverbs and object clitics, for example 'elle regarde souvent la télé' (*
she watches often TV).

These differences are due to one parametric difference in verb placement
(Pollock 1989). Negation, adverbs and clitics are in fixed positions. In
French the verb undergoes movement (due to its strong uninterpretable Tense
feature) whereas in English it does not.

I investigate the acquisition of negation, adverbs and clitics to determine
potential parameter re-setting and empirically test between three Initial
State theories (Organic Grammar, Full Transfer/Full Access and Modulated
Structure Building) and three L2 development theories (Missing Surface
Inflection Representational Deficit Hypothesis and Feature Reassembly). I
address the following research questions:

1. What is the initial state in L2 learners of French?
2.How do functional features develop in these learners?
3. What is the role of the L1 feature settings in this development?

I examine data from five groups of 15 instructed English speaking learners
of French ranging from beginners aged 12-13 to the high-advanced group aged
21-23.

The theories are evaluated in light of results from elicited oral
production, comprehension and acceptability judgement tasks. The results
show significant levels of L1 transfer in the Initial State and a gradual
development of sentence structure. I argue this provides evidence
supporting Modulated Structure Building. There are significant correlations
between verb raising with all structures countering Representational
Deficit Hypothesis.

This thesis concludes that parameter re-setting is possible for instructed
English speaking learners of French. However, learners build their
syntactic representation gradually and transfer their L1 knowledge at each
stage before re-setting the parameter to the French values.



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