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Papers in English

Introduction to a thematic review: Pragmatics research in Chinese as a second language

Naoko Taguchi and Shuai Li

Abstract
As Chinese is quickly becoming the language for intercultural communication, rules and norms of interaction in Chinese – how to speak with the level of politeness and formality required in a situation, or to understand another person’s intention communicated indirectly – are critical aspects of learning Chinese. Despite this growing interest in Chinese teaching and research, most studies have focused on formal aspects of Chinese competence (e.g., grammar and character knowledge), and little research has addressed pragmatic aspects of Chinese learning (Taguchi, 2015). To fill this gap, this thematic review presents four empirical studies on pragmatics in Chinese as a second language. Four studies deal with a variety of pragmatic features in Chinese (e.g., sentence final particles, formulaic expressions, request-making forms, mitigation strategies, stance markers) to illustrate how those features can inform us about L2 Chinese learners’ pragmatic competence and development.

Keywords: Chinese; pragmatic competence; second language


Pragmatic competence of heritage learners of Chinese and its relationship to social contact

Naoko Taguchi, Haomin Zhang and Qiong Li

Abstract
This study aimed to investigate: (1) Chinese heritage learners’ (CHLs) pragmatic competence in comparison to foreign language learners of Chinese (CFLs) and (2) the relationship between CHLs’ pragmatic competence and their language contact in a range of social settings. Focal linguistic forms included sentence final particles (SFPs) and formulaic expressions (FORs). Sixty Chinese language learners in the intermediate- and advanced-level classes (31 CHLs and 29 CFLs) participated in the study. Participants completed a computerized listening comprehension task, a written production task, and a language contact questionnaire. Findings showed that CHLs outperformed CFLs in both comprehension and production of Chinese sentence final particles and formulaic expressions. The analysis of language contact questionnaire revealed that learners who reported a greater amount of interactive language contact achieved higher scores on the pragmatic tasks, regardless of the constructs and skill domains assessed.

Keywords: Heritage learners; Chinese; pragmatic competence; language contact

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CASLAR Journal: Volume 5, Issue 2 (Oct 2016) 2016年第5卷第2期

Papers in English


Processing Chinese relative clauses: An investigation of second-language learners from different learning contexts
Yao, Qin
Renaud, Claire

Abstract
The goal of this study is to examine the processing of Chinese relative clauses (RCs) through a self-paced reading task and to determine whether the learning environment plays a role in the second-language (L2) acquisition of RCs. We investigated two types of RCs (subject vs. object RCs) along with two positions in which a RC can occur (modifying a matrix subject noun phrase [NP] vs. a matrix object NP). Eighteen native speakers of Chinese and twenty-one L2 learners at an intermediate proficiency level participated in the study. Ten learners were students learning Chinese in the US (i. e., in a foreign-language context), whereas the other eleven learners were students studying Chinese in China (i. e., in a study-abroad context). The comprehension of sentences containing a RC and reading times (RTs) on the RC and the head noun (the segment immediately following the RC) were analyzed. The results show distinct patterns for the learners and the native speakers. The accuracy data reveals that the L2 learners in China performed better than the L2 learners in the US. Additionally, the L2 learners in China exhibited a processing speed advantage to the L2 learners in the US. The RT data highlighted important asymmetries in the L2 learners in the US and the native speakers, while the results were flat for the L2 learners in China. Specifically, L2 learners in the US took longer to read object RCs than subject RCs while the opposite pattern was obtained for the L1 speakers. Moreover, matrix-object-modifying RCs revealed shorter RTs than matrix-subject-modifying RCs for L2 learners in the US, whereas the opposite pattern was found for the L1 speakers. These findings are discussed in light of the Linear Distance Theory and the Structural Distance Theory (e. g., O’Grady 1997. Syntactic development. Chicago: University of Chicago Press). Overall, these results seem to provide support to the assumption that changes in syntactic processing happen as a result of exposure to the language environment (Cuetos et al. 1996. Parsing in different languages. In Manuel Carreias, Jose E. Garcia-Albea & Nuria Sebastien-Galles (eds.), Language processing in Spanish, 145–187. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum; Frenck–Mestre 2002. An on-line look at sentence processing in the second language. In Roberto Heredia & Jeanette Altarriba (eds.), Bilingual sentence processing, 217–236. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science Publishers.).

摘要
本文的研究目的是通过自定步速阅读任务来检测阅读者对中文定语从句的处理,以及探索学习环境在定语从句二语习得中的作用。本文主要研究主语定语从句和宾语定语从句两种句式,并同时探讨定语从句在主句中所处的位置(修饰主句的主语名词短语或修饰主句的宾语名词短语)对阅读产生的影响。18名中文母语者和21名中级水平的中文二语学习者参加了实验,其中10名学习者是在美国学中文的学生(外语环境),而另外11名学习者是在中国学习中文的学生(留学环境)。研究者将被试者对包含定语从句的句子的理解,以及他们阅读定语从句和中心名词(紧跟在定语从句后面的成分)的时间进行了分析,发现学习者和母语者表现出不同的阅读模式。在中国的二语学习者在阅读理解准确度上比在美国的二语学习者表现好,并且在处理速度上有优势。在美国的二语学习者和中文母语者在阅读速度上有对比性的显著结果,而在中国的二语学习者在此方面的数据结果却不显著。具体来说,在美国的二语学习者读宾语定语从句的时间比读主语定语从句的时间长,而母语者却相反。此外,在美国的二语学习者读修饰主句宾语的定语从句比读修饰主句主语的定语从句更快,但母语者在相关方面的表现也是相反的。研究者从线性距离理论 和结构距离理论 (e. g. O’Grady 1997. Syntactic development. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.) 的角度来讨论这些结果。总的来说,研究结果似乎为前人的假设提供了支持,即所处语言环境的不同会影响句法的处理 (Cuetos et al. 1996. Parsing in different languages. In Manuel Carreias, Jose E. Garcia-Albea & Nuria Sebastien-Galles (eds.), Language processing in Spanish, 145–187. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum; Frenck-Mestre 2002. An on-line look at sentence processing in the second language. In Roberto Heredia & Jeanette Altarriba (eds.), Bilingual sentence processing, 217–236. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science Publishers.)。

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http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/caslar.2015.4.issue-1/issue-files/caslar.2015.4.issue-1.xml

Acquiring topic structures in Mandarin Chinese

Feng-hsi Liu

Abstract: Previous studies suggest that Chinese topic structures, especially base-generated structures, are difficult for L1 English L2 Chinese learners, and only at the very advanced stage do learners perform at the target-like level. Yuan (1995) hypothesizes that non-advanced L2 learners may have difficulty adding a topic node to the subject-predicate structure and that they tend to interpret the topic as the subject. The present study tests this hypothesis and seeks to find out if structure building is accessible to L2 learners before they reach an advanced stage. A grammatical judgment experiment was conducted on several types of topic structures. Results show that lower-level subjects behaved on a par with native speakers on certain types of topic structures. This result suggests that L2 learners are able to build new structures at an early stage.

Keywords: Mandarin Chinese; topic structures; base-generated; L2 acquisition

 

Cognition-based multimedia classifier learning

Jenny Yichun Kuo

Abstract: In a classifier language like Chinese, all the noun phrases with numerals or demonstratives must go with classifiers, for example, liǎng zhī bǐ 兩枝筆 ‘two CL pen.’ Classifiers vary depending on the nouns. This poses a big challenge for learners of Chinese as second language. Cognition-based multimedia and paper materials for Chinese material classifiers were developed and proved to be effective for learners of Chinese as a second language. The experimental group (N = 15) used the multimedia program and the control group (N= 20) received the same information on paper. Both groups made significant progress after a 10-week treatment. The results suggest cognitive principles are helpful for classifier learning in either multimedia or paper format.

Keywords: Mandarin; classifier; Chinese as a second language; multimedia

 

Investigating the roles of vocabulary knowledge and word recognition speed in Chinese language listening

Wei Cai

Abstract: This study examines the roles of vocabulary knowledge and word recognition speed in Chinese listening proficiency. A standardized listening proficiency test and a self-designed vocabulary knowledge test were used to measure participants’ listening proficiency and vocabulary knowledge respectively. The gating method was used to examine participants’ word recognition speed. The result shows a high correlation between vocabulary knowledge and listening proficiency and a high medium correlation between word recognition speed and listening proficiency. In terms of the contributions of vocabulary knowledge and word recognition speed to listening proficiency, the result shows that vocabulary knowledge contributes to 77.1% of listening proficiency and is a stronger predictor of listening proficiency. In contrast, word recognition speed does not contribute over or beyond vocabulary knowledge to listening proficiency.

Keywords: vocabulary knowledge; word recognition speed; listening; Chinese; gating

 

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