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LINGUIST List 24.930

Thu Feb 21 2013

Diss: Language Acq: Upor: 'The Acquisition of Tense-Aspect Morphology among Tanzanian EFL Learners'

Editor for this issue: Lili Xia <lxialinguistlist.org>

Date: 20-Feb-2013
From: Rose Upor <uporudsm.ac.tz>
Subject: The Acquisition of Tense-Aspect Morphology among Tanzanian EFL Learners
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Institution: University of Georgia
Program: Linguistics Program
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2009

Author: Rose Acen Upor

Dissertation Title: The Acquisition of Tense-Aspect Morphology among Tanzanian EFL Learners

Linguistic Field(s): Language Acquisition

Dissertation Director:
Don McCreary
Lioba Moshi
Margaret Lubbers-Quesada

Dissertation Abstract:

Though the acquisition of tense-aspect has been widely studied over the last two
decades (e.g. Bardovi-Harlig, 1992a, 1994, 1998, 2000; Salaberry, 1999, 2000a,
2000b; Andersen and Shirai, 1995; Shirai, 1991, 2007, etc.), most of its focus
has been on L2 acquisition. Recently, aspectual studies have branched towards
investigation in foreign language settings (Robison, 1990, 1995; Ayoun &
Salaberry, 2008; Collins, 2002) of which the current study is no exception. This
cross-sectional study investigates the acquisition of tense-aspect morphology
among 309 Tanzanian EFL learners. This diversity of participants has been
rarely examined in the field of FLL and SLA. Using the Lexical Aspect
Hypothesis (LAH), the study addresses two main areas (1) the distribution of
tense-aspect morphology, and (2) an account for the distribution of tense-aspect
morphology. The investigation employed picture stories through which the
participants wrote narratives about and statistical analysis that tested the study
hypotheses. The findings underscore the effect of lexical aspect on the use of
past tense markers and on individual groups of participants while highlighting a
significant departure from the predictions of the LAH: intermittent emergence of
past marking across lexical aspectual classes (telic > atelic > telic > atelic) and
overgeneralization of the progressive to statives despite participants being

Other findings include no significant effect of instruction across some groups of
learners even though they are more than a grade level higher than other
participants and evidence of native language influence on the progressive
aspect. Possible theoretical factors that might account for the study findings are
discussed as well.

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