Aspectual marking among English and Korean learners of Mandarin Chinese
Wai Lan Tsang
Abstract: The present study reports on a small-scale investigation of Mandarin aspectual marking among two groups of pre-intermediate learners of Mandarin Chinese: native English speakers and native Korean speakers. The use of -le, -guo, and -zhe in the learners' written work was examined, with particular attention to three variables: (i) overall frequency of aspectual marking, (ii) frequency of occurrence of each marker, and (iii) interaction between these markers and situation types (Smith 1997). The learners' patterns were also compared with those of a group of native Mandarin speakers and analysed in terms of the postulates of the Aspect Hypothesis (Andersen & Shirai 1996, Bardovi-Harlig 2000). The overall analysis discerned both similarities and differences in the usage of the three markers among the learners. Such patterns are likely to be related to the distinctive nature of the markers, type of genre, the learners' L1 aspectual systems, and classroom/textbook input.
The gap between the perception and production of tones by American learners of Mandarin – An intralingual perspective
Abstract: Linguists have predominantly maintained that perception precedes production (Dinnsen 1983), an assertion also accepted by those studying second language acquisition (Flege 1995). However, an observation of acquisition of tones in Chinese as a second language suggests that American learners make different tonal mistakes in perception and production. This study explores tonal perception and production referring to the sound system of Mandarin, since a tone has a close relationship with an initial that is an onset and a final that is a rhyme within a syllable in Mandarin. The research instrument has 84 monosyllables that are representative according to the relationship among initials, finals and tones. Twenty-five American learners of Chinese in second-semester Chinese class and 11 learners of Chinese in fourth-semester Chinese class participated in this study. A two-way mixed ANOVA is the main statistical method used to analyze the acquisition data. The results reveal that tonal production is better than tonal perception. The error distribution of perception is influenced not only by tonal features, but also by initial features and final structures. For production, however, initial and final features do not influence tones. Therefore, the paper argues that tones are perceived at the phonological level and produced at the phonetic level and it takes L2 learners longer time to acquire phonological features of tones.
A study of situation-bound utterances in Modern Chinese
Abstract: Situation-Bound Utterances (SBUs), as a typical kind of idiomatic expression, have been well studied mainly in English, but to date have been little studied in Mandarin. What are the unique characteristics of Mandarin SBUs? What lies behind this uniqueness? To answer these questions requires uncovering the psychological reality of SBUs among Mandarin speakers and filtering out samples based on a clear definition. In this study, the socio-cognitive approach is taken. This approach synthesizes the advantages of a pragmatic and cognitive view of language communication in which concept and lexicon are viewed as two inter-related but mutually independent entities. SBUs act as an appropriate tangent point to illustrate the relationship between concepts and linguistic forms. Under such a perspective, the study of Mandarin SBUs in this paper will reinforce and complement the cognition of this unique linguistic phenomenon. This paper first defines SBUs according to certain maxims and then demonstrates various kinds of idiomatic expressions in Mandarin and clarifies the relationships among these expressions and SBUs. Thirty samples are filtered out through three approaches: individual reflection, collective contribution and reference consulting. The paper then sets three tests to confirm and reconfirm the selected thirty quasi-SBUs. Finally, following a discussion of Mandarin SBUs vis-à-vis linguistic form, language policy and social-cultural factors, conclusions are posited as to why Mandarin SBUs are somewhat different from their English counterparts.