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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Room 7, Faculty of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies
Event date: 
Friday, 24 May, 2019 - 17:00 to 18:00

L2 Chinese Linguistics Seminar

The study of L3 acquisition (L3A) within formal linguistics perspectives is still in its infancy as compared with the decades of development in the study of L2 acquisition (L2A). In recent years, several models in L3 morphosyntax has been proposed, and they argue for different sources of transfer in consideration of L1/L2 status, structural proximity among the triad, processing complexity, construction frequency, etc. (Alonso and Rothman, 2016). However, preliminary agreement, even on the initial stages of L3 development, is yet to be reached.

In our study, we investigate whether L2 and L3 speakers Mandarin process indefinite and definite subjects differently from L1 speakers of Mandarin with a self-paced reading task. As is well-known, in English, the article a marks the [-definite] feature of noun phrases (NPs), while the article the marks the [+definite] one, and both definite and indefinite NPs are perfectly acceptable in subject positions. In contrast, in Mandarin and Cantonese—two article-less languages, definiteness is represented through bare nouns, numerals, classifiers, etc. In both languages, indefinite NPs are generally not allowed in subject or topic positions (Li and Thompson, 1989). Our study will provide empirical evidence for the sources of transfer in L3 acquisition.

Professor Boping Yuan: