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L2 acquisition of Chinese Applicative-DOC and -DUC by English, Spanish and Korean speakers

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, 4th November, 2016 in Room 7 at the Faculty
    L2 acquisition of Chinese Applicative-DOC and -DUC by English, Spanish and Korean speakers
    Nana Huang

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


This study investigated L1 (first language) influence on syntactic and semantic reconstructions by English, Spanish and Korean speakers learning L2 (second language) Chinese Applicative Constructions manifested as Double Object Construction (DOC) and Double Unaccusative Construction (DUC). Specifically, I considered the learnability problem, posed by the superset-subset relation between learners' native language and L2 Chinese regarding the two constructions.

A total number of 117 L2 participants learning Chinese and 20 native speakers of Chinese participated an empirical experiment composed of a syntactic judgment task and a semantic interpretation task. It was found that if the target property of the L2 Chinese was in subset relation with the corresponding property in learners' L1, without explicit instructions, L2ers were unable to unlearn the property that existed in L1 but did not exist in L2, supporting Yuan's (2014) Dormant Features Hypothesis. In cases where the target property of the L2 Chinese was in superset relation with the corresponding property of speakers' L1, without explicit instructions, L2ers were able to reconstruct L2 grammars to better accommodate the target property. However, the reconstructed L2 grammars only had face value and learners' syntactic representations remained non-native-like even for learners with advanced L2 Chinese proficiency. This finding lends support to Hawkin's (2000; 2005) Representational Deficit Hypothesis.


For further information, contact:

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