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Acquiring double-marking structures: the case of aspectual marking in L2 Mandarin Chinese by English-speaking learners

Research Seminars on Chinese Linguistics & Chinese as a Second Language 

Michaelmas Term, 2016

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The Research Seminars on Chinese Linguistics and Chinese as a Second Language ("L2 Chinese") 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 a platform for researchers to discuss recent developments in the field, to present their work and to receive feedback from fellow researchers. The seminars are supervised by Dr Boping Yuan.

All are welcome!

  • Friday, 28th October, 2016 in Room 7 at the Faculty
    Acquiring double-marking structures: the case of aspectual marking in L2 Mandarin Chinese by English-speaking learners
    Dr Yanyu Guo 

The seminar starts at 4:00pm and ends at 6:00pm.


 It is common and perfectly grammatical for two different Chinese imperfective markers (zai and ¬zhe) or two perfective markers (guo and le) to occur jointly in a fixed order in one sentence. In the present study, three types of double-marking structures concerning aspect in L2 Chinese have been investigated: 1) single-action imperfective structures; 2) two-action imperfective structures; and 3) single-action perfective structures.

In the field of second language acquisition research, there has been a long-standing interest in implicit and explicit knowledge (see, e.g., the contributions in Ellis, 1994; Hulstijn & Ellis, 2005; and Rebuschat & Willams, 2012). In this study, we tested English-speaking L2 learners’ explicit knowledge by using an untimed acceptability judgment task (AJT) and implicit knowledge using an elicited imitation task (EIT) in an attempt to give a better understanding of how learners use their knowledge in on-and off-line tasks. Twenty-one beginners, 23 intermediate learners, 21 advanced learners and 25 Chinese native speakers took the two tasks. The results show that although the English-speaking L2 learners of Chinese behaved less target-like in the on-line EIT than in the off-line AJT, the acquisition patterns observed in the two tasks are similar. We argue that the resulting differences between the learners’ performance are attributable to 1) distinctions of the imperfective and the perfective double-marking structures in terms of computational complexity, and 2) influences from the learners’ first language.


For further information, contact:

Ruyi Dai
PhD Student, Chinese Studies
Department of East Asian Studies