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Chapter 5 Cross-linguistic Influence on Chinese ESL Learners’ Acquisition and Processing of English MVCs

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唐萌萌 1983 年出生于山东省东营市。2005 年本科毕业于中国石油大学(华东)英语系,2007 年硕士毕业于中国石油大学(华东)英语语言文学系,后留校任教。2014 年被遴选为国家留学基金委“国际区域问题与外语高级人才”,赴英国约克大学攻读博士,2018 年获得应用语言学博士学位。现为中国石油大学(北京)外国语学院教师,硕士生导师,国际期刊International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching,Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching 审稿人。长期从事应用语言学与认知神经语言学领域的教学和科研工作,先后主持教育部人文社科基金等省部级及校级项目五项。在Neuroscience Letters, International Journal of Bilingualism 等国内外期刊发表论文数十篇,出版著作五部。

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Chapter 5 Cross-linguistic Influence on Chinese ESL Learners’ Acquisition and Processing of English MVCs

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Chapter 5 Cross-linguistic Influence on Chinese ESL Learners’ Acquisition and Processing of English MVCs

In this chapter,I will give an account of the corpus-based analysis of the production of MVCs by Chinese learners of English,as well as offline and online experiments on their explicit and implicit knowledge of the salient cue to distinguish English finite and nonfinite verbs. Before that,a brief review of the similarities and differences between Chinese and English sentences with multiple verbs will remind us of the theoretical basis.

Chinese and English MVCs show differences in morphology and salient cues to distinguish the matrix verbs from other verbs(see Table 10). In English MVCs,there exists a clear distinction between the matrix and other verbs that is distinguishable via the morphology in the form of either finite verbs or non-finite verbs,regardless of what function the latter perform. In comparison,Chinese MVCs are classified into two types:they either have a finite and non-finite distinction,like sentences with a verb-subject or a verb-object,or have more than one interpretation of finiteness,like in pivotal and serial-event sentences. In the first type of sentence,with a semantic [+-F] distinction,nonfinite verbs are bare verbs,while finite verbs can combine with aspectual particles. In the second type of sentence,there are two interpretations:without the aspectual morphemes after V2,V2 is non-finite,however,with the aspectual morphemes after V2,both verbs are finite(see examples in Table 10).

Table 10 A Comparison Between English and Chinese MVCs

Table 10 A Comparison Between English and Chinese MVCs-Continued

On basis of the two types of Chinese MVCs,two types of cross-linguistic differences between Chinese(L1)and English(L2)are evident. In type I,MVCs are semantically similar between the two languages and any learnability problems are predicted to be found with regard to the morphology:the problem of mapping the non-finite meaning to the correct forms(-to do,-ing). For instance,in the Chinese sentence “Dúshū gǎibiàn le tāde mìngyùn.”(read change PFV his life),the non-finite verb “Dúshū”(read)takes the form of a bare verb,while in the counterpart English sentence “reading changes one’s life”,the non-finite verb takes the “-ing” form.

In type II,MVCs are similar between English and Chinese in terms of word order,but differ with regard to the underlying relations between the two verbs,as they have finite and non-finite distinctions in English while multiple verbs can be both finite to indicate the completeness of the event continuum in Chinese. So the learnability problem concerns how to map the proper form to the appropriate meaning. For instance,in the Chinese sentence “Lǎoshī qǐng tā chīle jiǎozi.”(teacher invite he eat PFV dumplings),both “qǐng”(invite) and “chī”(eat)are in perfective aspect,while in the reminiscent English sentence “the teacher invited me to eat dumplings”,“invite” is finite and “to eat” is non-finite. Even though without “le”,the V2chī”(eat)is non-finite,the existence of the Chinese cases that both verbs are finite in pivotal sentences may still have an influence on the L2 production. Based on transfer theories suggesting that these cross-linguistic differences will lead to a negative transfer from the L1 to L2(Odlin,1989),and the evidence of syntactic transfer from previous studies(e.g.,Chan,2004;Green 1996;Helms-Park,2001,2003;Hertel,2003;Matthews & Yip,2003;Sabourin,2001;Xiao,2002;Yip,1995;Yip & Matthews,1995),learners are predicted to transfer the “finite+finite” forms from Chinese pivotal and serial-events sentences to the L2.

In this chapter,the above-outlined cross-linguistic differences are investigated via learners’ production(via corpus analysis),explicit knowledge(via grammaticality judgment tests)and implicit knowledge(measured via a SPR task). Sections 5.1-5.3 describe these tests in detail.

5.1 Corpus-based Analysis of Chinese ESL Learners’ Written Production*

In the present study,corpus-based analysis is adopted to answer three research questions:

What non-target-like usage do Chinese ESL learners engage in regarding English MVCs?

Where non-target-like usage is observed,does this reflect cross-linguistic differences between English and Chinese MVCs?

Do sentence types and L2 proficiency affect the pattern of usage?

5.1.1 Methods

5.1.1.1 Chinese Learners’ English Corpus(CLEC)

Several contemporary large-scale Chinese learners’ English corpora have been created since 2000,such as the Chinese Learner English Corpus(CLEC)(Gui & Yang,2003),the College Learners’ Spoken English Corpus(COLSEC)(H. Yang & Wei,2005),the Spoken and Written Corpus of Chinese Learners(SWCCL)(Q. Wen,Wang,Liang,& Yan,2005),the Parallel Corpus of Chinese EFL Learners(PACCEL)(Q. Wen & Wang,2008)and several international learners’ interlanguage corpora,such as the International Corpus of Learners’ English(ICLE)Corpus,and the Chinese sub-corpus(Granger,2002). Among these copora,CLEC is the only one that covers learners of different proficiency levels,in contrast to the others,where only the compositions or oral data of university students have been collected. In CLEC,a million words from English compositions have been collected from five different levels of Chinese learners of English,and are tagged with 61 types of misuse(excluding stylistic errors and error sources,which are difficult to tag objectively and consistently). With its wide range of subjects’ compositions and clear tags,CLEC was chosen as the database for a corpus-based analysis of English MVCs usage by different levels of Chinese learners.

The Chinese Learners’ English Corpus(CLEC)was constructed through the joint efforts of Guangdong University of Foreign Studies,Shanghai Jiao Tong University and several other universities,as the first English learners’ corpus in China,and was published in 2003. It comprises more than 1,000,000 words from the interlanguage production of Chinese learners from different backgrounds and with varying levels of proficiency,and includes five sub-corpora:St2,St3,St4,St5 and St6(Gui & Yang,2003). It is a pool of written compositions gathered from formal tests with the same topic and requirements and within time limitations. Table 11 provides information on the five sub-corpora.

Table 11 Distribution of Words Across the Five Sub-corpora in CLEC(Gui & Yang,2003)

CLEC contains tagged texts in which the non-target-like usage is classified into two tiers. The first tier has 11 types,including word forms(fm.),verb phrases(vp.),noun phrases(np.),pronouns(pr.),adjective(aj.),and etc. And the second tier is the subdivisions under the first tier,such as the vp1 under the vp tier meaning “pattern” misuses,vp2 meaning “set phrase” misuses. The misuses of the finite/non-finite verbs are “vp4”(mistakenly using finite verbs for non-finite verbs or vice versa)and “vp5”(the misuse of an infinitive for a participle or vice versa,and an -ed participle for an -ing participle or vice versa). Misuse tags are inserted when misuse occurs,marked by square brackets. For example,“suddenly I saw dad sat [vp4,2-] in a chair”. “2-” shows the scope of misuse occurrence:“-” means “before” the misuse;“2” means that the word which can help to diagnose the misuse is two words before the misuse. On the whole,61 types of misuse(e.g.,fm1:word spelling;fm2:word building;fm3:capitalization;np1:noun pattern;np2:noun set phrase,and etc.)are identified in this corpus,ranging across the sentence,phrase and word level.

5.1.1.2 Participants

The current research chose three sub-corpora as the experiment participants to cover low,intermediate and high proficiency Chinese learners of English:

St2:senior high school students,age range:16-18;

St4:junior and senior undergraduates of non-English majors,age range:20-23;

St6:junior and senior undergraduates of English majors,age range:20-23.

In the corpora analysis,St2 participants were regarded as low-proficiency learners in the corpus. Senior high school students in China have learned the English grammar rules about non-finite verbs in the classroom according to the National Full-time Senior High School English Syllabus(Revised). The Syllabus states that senior high students should possess a vocabulary of 1,200 words plus a certain number of phrases and idioms that they can use them in composition writing. Students can use the general reading skills to grasp the central ideas,the main facts,the logical clues,and the temporal and special information within the reading materials. Students can use grammatical rules,including those related to non-finite verbs,to write simple letters,notes and notices,and also write around 80 words within 30 minutes(China Ministry of Education,2004).

Learners in St4 are considered to be the intermediate-proficiency group. Learners in St4 are juniors and seniors of non-English majors at the approximate level of the College English Test Band 6(CET6,an intermediate-level English test). CET 6 has a higher requirement than CET 4,and is regarded as a medium-level test. The participants in this corpus can meet the general requirements of the college English syllabus. Their vocabulary may be up to 4,795 words and 700 phrases(including vocabulary learned in secondary school),and their reading speed can be 70 words per minute. In writing tasks,they are supposed to be able to describe their personal experience,perceptions,feelings,events,and write at an essay containing at least 120 words within 30 minutes,with a clear theme,appropriate words,coherent language and correct grammar(Higher Education Department of the Ministry of Education,2006).

The St6 group,namely the 3rd and 4th year English majors,are supposed to be approximately at the level of the Band 8 “Test for English Majors”(TEM 8),which is the highest English proficiency level in China. They are required to master 7,000-12,000 words and be able to read magazines,political essays(e.g.,The New York Times),novels(e.g.,The Great Gatsby),and historical biographies(e.g. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich)at a speed of 140-180 words per minute. They should be able to write summaries of novels,book reports,course papers,and formal letters using correct,coherent language,and appropriate expressions and also be able to express their understanding and thoughts effectively,as well as write an essay of 250-300 words in 30 minutes(Committee of Foreign Language Teaching in Colleges and Universities,2000). The 3rd and 4th year English majors in St6 are ranked as high-proficiency English learners.

In general,the three groups of learners can well represent low,intermediate and high proficiency learners in China through their graded amount of vocabulary and phrases,reading speed,grammar learning,words per composition as stated in the national syllabus. A summary of learners’ proficiency levels in St2,St4 and St6 are listed in Table 12.

Table 12 Proficiency Levels of Sub-corpus St2,St4 and St 6 in CLEC

5.1.1.3 Coding and Analytical Procedure

In the corpus,verb phrase misuse was tagged as vp,and classified into 9 types. These are,respectively:transitivity,set phrases,agreement,finite/non-finite,non-finite,tense,voice,mood,and modal/ auxiliary. Among the verb phrase misuses,vp4 and vp5 are related to our research questions.

Vp4,finite/non-finite misuse,includes mistakenly using finite verbs for non-finite verbs or vice versa,e.g.,I call on Chinese women become [vp4,5-] more conscions about themselves(St6). Vp5,includes the misuse of an infinitive for a participle or vice versa,and an -ed participle for an -ing participle or vice versa. e.g.,The doctor asked me to stay hospital observing [vp5,7-](St2). Vp4 and vp5 account for 10.93% of the total verb phrase misuse in St2,9.66% in St4,and 9.75% in St6(Gui & Yang,2003).

The sentences containing misused finite and non-finite verbs were extracted from the corpora by searching for vp4 and vp5 in the raw compositions. The extracted data were then re-tagged according to which was the misused verb,its syntactic position,misused form,and corrected form. Table 13 shows the method of coding.

The retagged sentences that involved non-finite verbs as the attribute and appositive(which are unrelated to the research purpose)were removed. Before the data analysis,normalization was performed by dividing the raw misuse figures by the total word count of sub-corpus and the results multiplied by 200,000(the total word count in each sub-corpus is over 200,000).

Table 13 Coding Methods of Finite and Non-finite Verbs-related Misuses in St2,St4 and St6 Sub-corpus

After normalization,the misuse figures for each sub-corpus are based on an identical number. The misuse was categorized into bare verbs,to-do variants(e.g.,to does,to did,to doing),over-inflection(meaning overinflecting the nonfinite verbs according to tense),and mixed-usage(referring to the mixed usage of non-finite forms,including the infinitive for the participle or vice versa,and an -ed participle for an -ing participle or vice versa)in order to gain a clear view from the perspective of L1 influence. The examples are as follows:

(17)a. Bare verbs:Protect the environment is a very important thing.(St2)

b. To-do variants:At last,Crouse made up his mind to killed the savages as soon as they came.(St2)

c. Over-inflection:Our parents come to our school took part in the parents’ meeting.(St2)

d. Mixed-usage:Comparing with the English course in other universities,the CECL course in GIFL is different.(St6)

The sentence types were defined according to the syntactic position of the non-finite verbs,which are respectively in subject,object,object complement and adverbial. The following are examples of the different sentence types.

(18)a. In subject:Get up early can give you a good habit.(St2)

b. In object:At this very moment,we begin to realized that what makes us so unable,dependent and indecisive,is our “lovely” teaching system of our “lovely” ivory tower.(St6)

c. In object complement:In January 15th,of 1991,Gorge Bush,the president of the United States,ordered the American air force attacked the goals in Iraq.(St6)

d. In adverbial:We used the spades put the leaves into the basket.(St2)

In addition to the retagging and classification of misuses,we also calculated the total usage of non-finite verbs in the corpus by using software “AntConc 3.5.7”,with the purpose of examining the proportion of misusages(vp4,vp5)in the total usage. The total usage of non-finite verbs includes “to infinitives,gerunds,and past participle”. Present and past participles with copula and auxiliaries forming predicate or passive voice were not included in the total usage of non-finite verbs,because misuses of these types were regarded as “tense”(vp6)or “voice”(vp7)rather than “non-finite usage”(vp4,vp5)in the Corpus(see Gui and Yang,2003).

5.1.2 Results

The adjusted misuse figures of low,intermediate and high proficiency Chinese ESL learners regarding finite/non-finite and non-finite verbs are listed in Table 14. It shows that,unsurprisingly,the misuse in the production of non-finite clauses decreases with increasing proficiency,and learners of above-intermediate proficiency produced more non-finite clauses than low-proficiency learners.

Table 14 Description of Misuses and Total Usage of Non-finite Verbs in the St2,St4 and St6 Sub-corpus

Misuses were retagged during the above-mentioned coding method. The adjusted misuse figures,with different forms in different sentence types among low,intermediate and high proficiency learners,are shown in Table 15.

Table 15 Numbers and Percentages of Misuses Among Low-,Intermediate- and High-Proficiency Chinese ESL Learners in CLEC

Table 15 Numbers and Percentages of Misuses Among Low-,Intermediate- and High-Proficiency Chinese ESL Learners in CLEC-Continued

It is shown in the table that the dominant misused forms were different in English [-F](non-finite verbs)as subject,object,object complement and adverbial sentences. In sentences with [-F] as subject,the dominant types of misuse were bare verbs,as in example(19). This was prominent across all groups:the misuse count in the low-proficiency group was 15.38,which amounted to 80.02% of the total misuse. In the intermediate-proficiency group,it was 36.64,with up to 95.12% of the total misuse;while in the high-proficiency group,even though the misuse count of bare verbs fell dramatically to 5.31,it still occupied a high percentage of 60%.

(19)Bare verbs:Get up early can give you a good habit.(St2)

In sentences with non-finite verbs as the object,both bare verbs and to-do variants(see example(20))were prominent among low and intermediate proficiency learners. In the low-proficiency group,the misuse counts of bare verbs and to-do variants were,respectively,17.30,17.30,and they constituted 47.37% and 47.37% of the total misuse;in the intermediate-proficiency group,there were,respectively,23.49,and 21.61,which are 43.86% and 40.35% of the total misuse. However,bare verbs(misuse count:1.77,percentage:15.39%)and to-do variants(misuse count:3.54,percentage:30.78%)were not prominent among the high-proficiency learners,which group instead,had a more even distribution of misused forms.

(20)a. Bare verbs:The two cheats … pretended work hard at the empty looms.

b. To-do variants:At this very moment,we begin to realized that what makes us so unable,dependent and indecisive,is our “lovely” teaching system of our “lovely” ivory tower.(St2)

In non-finite verbs as object complement sentences,the main misuse of low proficiency learners was bare verbs(misuse count:15.38,percentage:36.37%)and over-inflection(misuse count:16.34,percentage:38.64%). The misuses are as shown in example(21). In contrast,intermediate and high proficiency learners mainly made mistakes related to bare verbs and mixed-usage(see example(21)):these were,respectively,9.40(45.48%)and 6.58(31.83%)in the intermediate-proficiency group,and 3.54(22.24%)and 7.96(50.00%)in the high-proficiency group. The intermediate and high proficiency learners were similar with regard to dominant misused forms,but different from the low proficiency learners.

(21)a. Bare verbs:Before long the boy … taught him do the thing what the people can do.

b. Over-inflection:In January 15th,of 1991,Gorge Bush,the president of the United States,ordered the American air force attacked the goals in Iraq.

c. Mixed-usage:We found the bikes disappearing.(St2)

In non-finite verbs as adverbial,misuses in the form of bare verbs and over-inflection were also prominent among low proficiency learners(28.83(44.77%)and 22.11(34.33%)),but not among the other two groups. Bare verbs were dominant,but mixed-usages and to-do variants were evenly distributed within the intermediate-proficiency group:the misuse count of bare verbs was 19.73(58.32%),mixed-usage was 7.52(22.23%)and to-do variants was 6.58(19.45%). In the high-proficiency group,the misuse count of bare verbs was 7.08(38.11%),mixed-usage was 4.42(23.79%),and to-do variants was 4.42(23.79%). See example(22).

(22)a. Bare verbs:Sometimes the cat took the plows catch it.

b. Over-inflection:Mary Hunter,the professor’s daughter,was catch a call and went to the hospital saw her friend that morning.

c. To-do variants:I’m going to my cousin to learning how to operate the computer.(St2)

Generally speaking,in different sentence types,the dominant misused forms differed,and L2 proficiency was also found to be an important factor. High proficiency learners engaged in a small amount of misuses in all the sentences with [-F](total count,58.85)and did not show a clear tendency with regard to using certain forms. Low-proficiency learners had the largest misuse figures(total count,162.43),reflected by their prominent use of bare verbs as the subject(15.38),bare verbs and to-do variants as the object(17.30,17.30),bare verbs and over-inflection as the object complement(15.38,16.34)and adverbial(28.82,22.11). The intermediate-proficiency learners’ total misuses lay between that of the other two groups(146.38),and the dominant misused forms were like those of the low-proficiency learners in [-F] as the subject(bare verbs 36.64)and object(bare verbs 23.49 and to-do variants 21.61),but similar to the high-proficiency learners with regard to [-F] as the object complement(bare verbs 9.40,mixed-usage 6.58)and adverbial(bare verbs 19.73,mixed-usage 7.52,and to-do variants 6.58). It thus shows that over-inflection mainly occurred in sentences with [-F] as the object complement and adverbial among low-proficiency learners. To obtain a clear view of the distribution of the prominent misused forms within the four sentence types among the low-,intermediate-,and high-proficiency learners,a bar chart is presented in Figure 2.

Figure 2 Chinese ESL Learners’ Misused Forms and Proportion in [-F] as Subject(sub.),Object(obj.),Object Complement(com.)and Adverbial Sentences(adv.)

In sum,in sentences with [-F] as the subject,all levels of proficiency groups misused similar forms(bare verbs). In sentences with [-F] as the object,the low and intermediate proficiency learners misused similar forms(bare verbs and to-do variants). In sentences with [-F] as the object complement or adverbial,the intermediate and high proficiency learners misused similar forms(bare verbs and mixed-usage)while the low proficiency learners widely misused bare verbs and over-inflection.

5.1.3 Discussion

The corpus analysis revealed four types of misuses related to non-finite verbs,i.e.,bare verbs,to-do variants,over-inflection,and mixed-usage. Both sentence type and L2 proficiency are influential factors. Cross-linguistic influences and other L2 developmental problems are argued to be the reasons for this.

5.1.3.1 Cross-linguistic Influence

Corpus-based analysis showed that Chinese ESL learners’ dominant misused forms were different in different sentence types,i.e.,sentences with [-F] as subject,object,object complement and adverbial. One interpretation of this is the cross-linguistic influence.

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章节目录

  • 5.1 Corpus-based Analysis of Chinese ESL Learners’ Written ProductionCogent Education,7(1),1721642.">*
    1. 5.1.1 Methods
      1. 5.1.1.1 Chinese Learners’ English Corpus(CLEC)
      2. 5.1.1.2 Participants
      3. 5.1.1.3 Coding and Analytical Procedure
    2. 5.1.2 Results
    3. 5.1.3 Discussion
      1. 5.1.3.1 Cross-linguistic Influence
      2. 5.1.3.2 Other Factors Contributing to the Misused Morphology
      3. 5.1.3.3 Limitations
  • 5.2 Chinese ESL Learners’ Explicit Knowledge of the Finite and Non-finite Distinction in English MVCs
    1. 5.2.1 Questions and Hypothesis
    2. 5.2.2 Experimental Design
      1. 5.2.2.1 Grammaticality Judgment
      2. 5.2.2.2 Oxford Placement Test
    3. 5.2.3 Procedure
    4. 5.2.4 Results
      1. 5.2.4.1 Participant Information
      2. 5.2.4.2 Analysis of the Grammaticality Judgement Test
    5. 5.2.5 Discussion
    6. 5.2.6 Limitations
  • 5.3 Chinese ESL Learners’ Online Processing of English MVCs
    1. 5.3.1 Research Questions and Hypothesis
    2. 5.3.2 Experimental Design
      1. 5.3.2.1 Participants
      2. 5.3.2.2 Materials
      3. 5.3.2.3 Pilot Study
      4. 5.3.2.4 The Main Study
    3. 5.3.3 Results
    4. 5.3.4 Discussion
      1. 5.3.4.1 Cross-linguistic Influence and L2 Proficiency
      2. 5.3.4.2 Implicit Knowledge vs. Explicit Knowledge
  • 5.4 Chapter Summary

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