LINGUIST List 8.667

Tue May 6 1997

Qs: Apologies, Objects, Learning English

Editor for this issue: Susan Robinson <>

We'd like to remind readers that the responses to queries are usually best posted to the individual asking the question. That individual is then strongly encouraged to post a summary to the list. This policy was instituted to help control the huge volume of mail on LINGUIST; so we would appreciate your cooperating with it whenever it seems appropriate.


  1. M. Lynne Murphy, apologies in english
  2. Adrian Clynes, Objects
  3. Robinson, Timothy, Difficulties of learning English

Message 1: apologies in english

Date: Mon, 5 May 1997 12:33:33 GMT + 2:00
From: M. Lynne Murphy <>
Subject: apologies in english

hello all--

a student of mine is looking for data on apologies in british english
done in the CCSARP (cross-cultural speech act realization project)
method. she needs a full set of statistics from discourse completion
tests in order to compare it to the data she has for baganda speakers
of english as a second language. we haven't been able to find
anything in the CCSARP literature that provides these figures, but
that certainly doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.

any help would be greatly appreciated.

lynne murphy

- ------------------------------------------------------------------
M. Lynne Murphy, Senior Lecturer
Department of Linguistics phone: +27-11-716-2340
University of the Witwatersrand fax: +27-11-716-4199
Johannesburg 2050
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Message 2: Objects

Date: Tue, 06 May 1997 09:41:12 +0800
From: Adrian Clynes <>
Subject: Objects

I'd be grateful for any useful references on the grammatical relation
'Object', and the properties of NP's said to bear that relation.
'Thanks in advance': I'll post a summary of reponses.


Adrian Clynes
Dept of English & Applied Linguistics			
Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Brunei		
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Message 3: Difficulties of learning English

Date: Mon, 5 May 1997 9:38:55 -0400
From: Robinson, Timothy <>
Subject: Difficulties of learning English


Can anyone help in aiding a colleague in Bangladesh? I have received a 
message from an ELT professional at Dhaka University whom I had the 
pleasure to meet during a trip there in January of this year. Below is 
an excerpt from his message:

I am investigating the problems faced by Bangladeshi learners in 
acquiring the English Tense-Aspect system. English is taught as a foreign 
language in Bangladesh and using the English Tense-Aspect system 
appropriately and correctly is difficult for Bangladeshi learners. The 
purpose of my study is to identify which forms and their functions cause 
problems and also the nature and causes of these problems. I am looking 
for suggestions and references with regard to the following:

1. Defining the point of acquisition: Larsen-Freeman and Long 
(1991:40-41) in their Introduction to Second Language Acquisition 
Research (New York & London: Longman) deal with the matter. They refer 
to Cazden (1968, The Acquisition of noun and verb inflections, Child 
Development, 39, 433-448) and Hakuta (1974, A preliminary report on the 
development of grammatical morphemes in a Japanese girl learning English 
as a second language, Working Papers on Bilingualism, 3, 18-43) - who 
accept 90% suppliance of correct grammatical forms in obligatory contexts 
as evidence for successful acquisition. But how far can I use 
percentages for acquisition of a grammatical form or its function? A 
more rational approach would perhaps be to see if a learner or group of 
learners are able to use a form-function relationship consistently in 
different tasks over time. Have there been any recent studies in this 
matter? What are the references? 

2. Defining a learning difficulty or a learning problem: I need to 
explain what constitutes a 'learning difficulty' and refer to 
psycholinguistic studies in relation to the concept of difficulty in 
language learning. I have identified the following five references: 

A) Higa, M. 1966. The psycholinguistic concept of 'difficulty' and the 
teaching of foreign language vocabulary. Language Learning, 16, 167-179.

B) Kellerman, E. 1979. The problem with difficulty. Interlanguage 
Studies Bulletin, 4, 1, 27- 48. 

C) Nickel, G. 1971. Problems of learners' difficulties in foreign 
language acquisition. IRAL, 9, 3, 219-227.

D) Nickel, G. 1971. Variables in a hierarchy of difficulty. Working 
Papers in Linguistics, 3, 4, 185-194.

E) Tran-Thi-Chau. 1975. Error analysis, contrastive analysis and 
students' perception: a study of difficulty in second language learning. 
IRAL, 13, 2, 119-143.

I don't know about any recent contributions to the issue. I'd be grateful 
if you could send me a list of recent references in this matter or 
photocopies of the same. 

Request 1: If anyone has good info/references for his point #1 (defining 
point of acq), please send them to me and I will forward.

Request 2: If anyone has recent references on "difficulty," please send 
to me and I will then track them down on my end and forward.

Request 3: I have been able to obtain copies of four of the (older) 
references he cited for "difficulty." Does anyone have the following 
article on their shelves that they could copy and send to me (mail or 
fax)? I have not been able to locate a copy locally (neither at Lib of 
Congress nor at other major university near me):

- Nickel, G. 1971. Variables in a hierarchy of difficulty. Working 
Papers in Linguistics, 3, 4, 185-194. (This is the Hawaii WPL, I think).

Please reply off-list anyone who could help. I will summarize/post 
anything that seems relevant to the list. And thanks very much in 
advance. Access to materials, especially current ones, is difficult in 

Tim Robinson
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