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LINGUIST List 22.3965

Tue Oct 11 2011

Diss: Lang Acq: Pozzan: 'Asking Questions in Learner English: First...'

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        1.     Lucia Pozzan , Asking Questions in Learner English: First and second language acquisition of main and embedded interrogative structures


Message 1: Asking Questions in Learner English: First and second language acquisition of main and embedded interrogative structures
Date: 23-Sep-2011
From: Lucia Pozzan <lpozzansas.upenn.edu>
Subject: Asking Questions in Learner English: First and second language acquisition of main and embedded interrogative structures
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Institution: City University of New York
Program: Linguistics Program
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2011

Author: Lucia Pozzan

Dissertation Title: Asking Questions in Learner English: First and second language acquisition of main and embedded interrogative structures

Dissertation URL: http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~lpozzan/Publications/Asking%20Questions%20In%20Learner%20English.pdf

Linguistic Field(s): Language Acquisition

Dissertation Director:
Virginia v Valian
Eva M. Fernández
Martin Chodorow
Janet Dean Fodor

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation examines how adults and children learning English produce
and judge English interrogative structures. The ultimate goal of this study
is to contribute to an understanding of the extent, nature and sources of
learners' persistent difficulties with some syntactic properties of the
language they are acquiring.

To examine whether word order errors in the production of English
interrogatives by L2 learners stem from lack of knowledge or from
difficulties with automatic implementation of L2 procedures under real-time
constraints, L2 learners' performance across a range of tasks (oral and
written production, timed and untimed grammaticality judgments) is compared.

To examine whether errors in the production of English interrogatives by L2
learners can be imputed to transfer of L1 properties, L1 Chinese and L1
Spanish learners' production patterns are compared.

Finally, to examine whether errors in the production of L1 learners can be
attributed to properties of the adult input, the results from an elicited
production study with 3-5 year olds are examined in light of the frequency
of different word combinations in the adult input.

Taken together, the results of the present studies indicate that
difficulties with English interrogative structures (a) are a consistent
phenomenon both in L1 and L2 acquisition, (b) might be better accounted for
in terms of non-target-like representations rather than difficulties with
implementation of L2 procedures, and (c) do not follow in a direct way from
properties of the learners' L1s or properties of the input. Furthermore,
the results of the present studies show that learners' errors are
associated with specific syntactic configurations (wh- vs. yes/no
structures) and wh-words (why and when vs. who, what, and where),
suggesting that child and adult learners entertain similar grammatical
hypotheses and make use of similar mechanisms for language acquisition.




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