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chinese l2 fan120511

Department of East Asian Studies

Research Students' Seminars on Second Language Chinese
Negative Particles in English-Chinese Interlanguages

The first seminar of 2011-12 will take place at 4pm on Friday, 11th May, 2012 in Room 7 (ground floor) at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. The speaker will be Yi-Chia FAN, who will present her research on Negative Particles in English-Chinese Interlanguages (see abstract below).

The Research Students' Seminars on Chinese as a Second Language are held by the L2 Chinese research group of the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. The aim of these seminars is to provide research students with a platform to discuss recent development in the field, to present their research work and to receive feedback from teaching staff and fellow students. The seminars are supervised by Dr Boping Yuan.

All are welcome!


A number of studies in the literature have investigated the acquisition of negation; however, most of these studies have concentrated on the word-order difference in terms of the relation between the negator and verbs. This is attributed to the strength of the verb–features in INFL (White, 1992; Rule and Marsden, 2006; Hawkins et al, 1993; Yuan, 2004). To the best of my knowledge, except for Bayer's (2009) research examining the interaction between negative particles and aspect or verb types in L2 Chinese grammars of English speakers, few have done research investigating the behaviours of negative particles as well as the derivation of the negative particle questions in Mandarin Chinese.

Furthermore, on the Failed Functional Features Hypothesis, Hawkins and Chan (1997) claim that the representational deficits in L2 grammars are due to the fact that the feature and feature strength are not instantiated in learners' L1 grammars. Their prediction is that L2 Chinese learners of English are unable to acquire abstract morphosyntactic features of functional categories such as tense, phi-features and definiteness because there is no corresponding overt morphology in their L1 Chinese grammar. This paper is an attempt to test this hypothesis by investigating whether English speaking-learners are able to acquire the [+/-dynamic] feature which is not selected by English not, as well as whether they are aware of the agreement between negative particles bu and meiyou with –guo with respect to the [+/-telic] feature in their second language grammars of Chinese.

Results of an acceptability judgment task in the empirical study indicate that English subjects have a native-like mastery of the sentence consisting of bu/mei(you) with the achievement verb dapo 'break', suggesting that they have acquired the [+/- dynamic] feature. Moreover, although learners from beginning level are less accurate in accepting the grammatical [mei(you)…guo] structure, with increasing proficiency the Post-intermediate Group become more native-like in judging the same structure. This suggests that learners from the Post-intermediate Group are sensitive to [+/- telic] feature. On the basis of the results, we attempt to argue that Negative Particle Questions are derived by moving the negative particles bu and mei(you) from the head Neg of NegP to the head C of CP, as proposed by Cheng et al (1996).

For further information, contact:

Chang Liu 刘畅
PhD Student, Chinese Studies
Department of East Asian Studies