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Title: The Acquisition of Long-Distance Reflexives in Chinese as an Interlanguage: An experimental study

Author: Darcy Sperlich

Year and Degree: 2013 Doctor of Philosophy, University of Auckland

Abstract:

This thesis is concerned with the distinction between syntactic and pragmatic modes of communication, along the lines proposed by Givón (1979). More specifically Huang (2000) suggested that such a line be drawn between languages depending on how they regulate their anaphora. To test this distinction in my research, I assess the predictions of syntactic and pragmatic theories of anaphora against how learners of Chinese, from English and Korean backgrounds, acquire the Chinese simplex reflexive ziji. In terms of anaphora, English is a syntactically oriented language whilst Korean is pragmatically orientated, thus creating highly relevant experimental conditions when assessing for positive and negative transfer in their Chinese, which in turn regulates its anaphora largely by pragmatics. This is conducted via an experimental approach, making use of newly developed second language acquisition research methodology to investigate a learner's interlanguage, yielding very robust data. The results demonstrate that the English learners of Chinese transfer their syntactic strategies, which hinders their acquisition of ziji (negative transfer), while the Korean learners of Chinese transfer their pragmatic strategies, which assists their acquisition of ziji (positive transfer).

The results also confirm that Chinese and Korean are indeed languages which heavily regulate their reflexives by pragmatics, and English via syntax—but even in English it is also shown pragmatics has a role to play. Ultimately, the investigation conducted along an experimental approach shows that theoretically, pragmatic approaches to anaphora suit pragmatic languages better, and syntactic approaches suit syntactic languages better, which in turn confirms the distinction between syntactic and pragmatic languages in their anaphora along the lines of Huang (2000), and also adding further credence to Givón's (1979) original proposal.

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Title: Properties of the (Shi)...de Focus Construction in Adult L2 Acquisition and Heritage Language Acquisition of Mandarin Chinese

Author: Ziyin Mai

Year and Degree: 2012, Doctor of philosophy, University of Cambridge

Abstract:

The thesis aims to test the Interface Hypothesis (IH, Sorace and Filiaci 2006, Sorace 2011) by investigating properties of the (shi)...de focus construction in adult L2 acquisition and heritage language acquisition of Mandarin Chinese. Conventionally, linked with the English it-cleft construction (Cheng 2008, Paul and Whitman 2008, Hole 2011), the (shi)...de focus construction differs from the it-clefts in many aspect. In this thesis, it is assumed that shi is a verbal element heading a Focus Phrase and selects an Aspect Phrase headed by de. 

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Title: Radical Awareness Among Chinese-As-A-Foreign-Language Learners

Author: Xiaoxiang Su 

Degree and Year: Doctor of Philosophy, Florida State University, 2010.

Abstract: This study examined radical awareness among college students who learned Chinese as a foreign language (CFL). Radicals are subcomponents of characters. They follow positional constraints and they have meaning-cueing and pronunciation-cueing functions. Radical awareness, the knowledge about the positional and functional regularities of radicals has been found closely related to Chinese word reading and word writing among developing readers in first language literacy acquisition (Chan & Nunes, 1998; Ho, Ng, & Ng, 2003; Packard et al., 2006). The instruction on improving radical awareness was proved beneficial in character recognition, semantic categorization and character writing (Ho, Wong & Chan, 1999; Packard et al, 2006). Despite the wide interests in radical awareness in L1 literacy acquisition, relevant research in second language/foreign language is scant.

Three objectives guided the present study: 1) to determine radical awareness levels among CFL learners who differ in their Chinese proficiency levels; 2) to explore the relation between radical awareness and word recognition among CFL learners and to determine whether this relationship differ between advanced and beginning CFL learners; 3) to explore the shared and unique relations of radical awareness with word recognition in Chinese.

Ninety-seven CFL learners at a US southeastern university participated in the study. They were categorized as either beginning or advanced CFL learners based on a Latent Class analysis. A word recognition test and three tasks were created for the present study. These three tasks included a character legality decision task, a character-meaning matching task, and a character writing task. The character legality decision task was aimed at measuring learners’ implicit positional radical awareness; the character-meaning matching task was aimed at measuring learners’ implicit semantic radical awareness; the character writing task was used to measure the explicit radical awareness (both radical positional awareness and semantic radical awareness). ANOVA and multiple regressions were utilized as statistical analysis methods to answer the three research questions.

The results of the study showed that advanced CFL learners had higher levels of radical awareness than beginning CFL learners. They also yielded significant relations between implicit positional radical awareness, explicit positional radical awareness and explicit functional semantic radical awareness and word recognition among CFL learners and that this significant relationship did not vary between advanced and beginning CFL learners. The third finding from this study was that explicit functional semantic radical awareness was the unique predictor of word recognition among CFL learners.

The present study is unique in several aspects. First, the present study extended the previous studies by exploring the relation between language proficiency and radical awareness among CFL learners. For the few that explored the radical awareness among CFL learners, exposure time was the only factor that has been considered. Second, this study systematically examined explicit and implicit radical awareness for two types of radical awareness (i.e., positional and semantic) to explore the nature of the relation between radical awareness and word recognition comprehensively. Third, this study investigated the shared and unique relations of various radical awareness tasks to word recognition in Chinese.

The present study also has pedagogical implications. It has the potential to inform the Chinese textbook writers and classroom teachers to have a better understanding as to how to teach characters in a more efficient way. For example, the results may inform teachers about the importance of explicitly teaching radicals, and approximately when to introduce the concept of radicals in language study.

Recommended Citation:

Su, Xiaoxiang, "Radical Awareness Among Chinese-As-A-Foreign-Language Learners" (2010). Electronic Theses, Treatises and Dissertations. Paper 1524.

http://diginole.lib.fsu.edu/etd/1524

 

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