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CFL learners' productions of relative clauses with demonstratives: From theory to empirical research

Yi Xu

Abstract: Relative clauses (RCs), with their typological universality and structural complexity, have always been central to inquiries in generative linguistics and language acquisition. Although recent years witness a growing interest in psycholinguistic and acquisition research in Chinese RCs, few studies have attempted to make connections between psycholinguistic theories and Chinese as a second language learning and teaching. This paper tries to bridge the gap and uses an interdisciplinary approach to address the comparative difficulty of Chinese subject and object RCs in their interaction with demonstratives. Chinese L1 and L2 participants completed a written sentence completion task. More productions in a certain type of RC, when observed in both participant groups, were interpreted as evidence of structural preference, and differences between L1 and L2 patterns were analyzed as competence issues. It was found that both groups prefer subject RCs when the structure begins with a demonstrative, and this result corresponds to corpus studies of Chinese RCs as well as findings in previous acquisition research. At the same time, there was no asymmetry between the subject and object RCs produced when the demonstrative follows the RC. A multi-constraint model in which a “perspective” factor (MacWhinney 1977, 1982, MacWhinney and Pleh 1988) and a word order factor simultaneously contribute to production cost can explain the data. Meanwhile, L2 participants' errors were often related to neglecting the obligatory gap within the RC. Pedagogical implications were put forward.

Keywords: Chinese relative clauses; demonstrative; structural preference; psycholinguistic theory; learner errors


Effect of home background on advanced heritage language learning

Yun Xiao

Abstract: Using a detection test and an essay writing task, this study investigates the effect of home background on Chinese heritage language (CHL) learning and attainment at the advanced level. By examining the participants' use of target morphological marker le and discourse features, the study shows that, compared with their non-HL counterparts, advanced college CHL learners used the morphological marker le more frequently and more appropriately, and older CHL arrivals performed better than younger arrivals. Results of the essay writing task show that, compared with their non-HL counterparts, the older CHL arrivals did significantly better, while the younger arrivals did marginally better. The data support previous findings that early exposure to a language has undeniable positive effect on subsequent learning and that immigrant HL learners' age of arrival is an important indicator of attainment of competence at the advanced level.

Keywords: home background; discourse device; topic chain; zero pronouns; Chinese heritage-language students; non-heritage-language students; birth place; arrival age; language exposure


Acquiring the pitch patterns of L2 Mandarin Chinese

Chunsheng Yang

Abstract: This study examines the acquisition of utterance-level pitch patterns in Mandarin Chinese by American second language (L2) learners. It is an exploratory study with the goal of identifying the utterance-level prosody in L2 Mandarin Chinese. The focus of this study is not on the pitch patterns of individual learners but those of subject groups. The analysis shows that the pitch patterns between two syntactic structures for the same tone sequence vary with the tone sequence and the subject group. The biggest difference between first language (L1) and L2 Mandarin Chinese lies in the frequency of target undershoot in L2 speech. The infrequent tone target undershoot in L2 speech, especially among the intermediate learners, was attributed to the incomplete acquisition of L2 prosody. It was argued that the infrequent tone target undershoot may render L2 speech more staccato or robot-like, which contributes to the perception of a foreign accent in L2 Mandarin Chinese.

Keywords: prosody acquisition; Mandarin Chinese; L2 learners; F0; tones; tone target undershoot





关键词:兼类虚词; “只是”; “不过”; 语法化顺序; 习得顺序





关键词:词类系统; 形容词; 柔性; 句法功能



Herbert Mushangwe


关键词:汉语; 修纳语; 音高/声调; 声调偏误; 汉语教学