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LINGUIST List 18.2270

Mon Jul 30 2007

Diss: Applied Ling/Lang Acquisition: Chin: 'Cross-Linguistic Effect...'

Editor for this issue: Hunter Lockwood <hunterlinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Hsien-jen Chin, Cross-Linguistic Effects on L2 Acquisition: An investigation of aspect

Message 1: Cross-Linguistic Effects on L2 Acquisition: An investigation of aspect
Date: 28-Jul-2007
From: Hsien-jen Chin <dianachin80hotmail.com>
Subject: Cross-Linguistic Effects on L2 Acquisition: An investigation of aspect
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Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Program: Deparment of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2006

Author: Hsien-jen Diana Chin

Dissertation Title: Cross-Linguistic Effects on L2 Acquisition: An investigation of aspect

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics

Subject Language(s): Chinese, Mandarin (cmn)
                            English (eng)
                            Spanish (spa)

Dissertation Director:
Silvina Montrul

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation investigates the cross-linguistic effects on the L2
acquisition of the semantic contrast entailed by the perfective and
imperfective aspectual markings in Spanish and English, which has been
rarely examined in the field of SLA. The research question is: Is there L1
transfer in the acquisition of the semantic interpretations between
different aspectual markings in an L2? This study is therefore the first to
investigate the L1 influence on L2 acquisition of aspect with such a wide
range of languages (i.e., Chinese, English, and Spanish).

The two hypotheses being tested were the following: 1. H0: There is no
language transfer, as claimed by the Lexical Aspect Hypothesis (Andersen,
1986, 1989, 1991), all learners associate atelic verbs (i.e., states and
activities) with the imperfective aspect and telic verbs (i.e.,
accomplishments and achievements) with the perfective aspect, regardless of
their L1. 2. H1: If there is L1 transfer, L2 learners will transfer the
semantic interpretation of the aspectual markings in their native language
to the L2. That is, L2 learners with different native languages will
respond differently to the L2 aspectual marking.

Two experiments were conducted for this dissertation: (1) Acquisition of
the semantic contrast entailed by aspectual marking in L2 Spanish by
Chinese and English native speakers, and (2) Chinese and Spanish-speaking
ESL learners acquiring the aspectual contrast in L2 English. All
participants completed tests in proficiency, verb morphology, and
acceptability judgment in the language tested.

The findings reveal that intermediate level L2 learners were sensitive to
the semantic contrasts that are instantiated in their L1, but they did not
recognize the contrast if the semantic entailment is different between
their L1 and L2, which suggests L1 transfer.

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