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Chapter 6 English CSL Learners’ Acquisition and Processing of Chinese 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 6 English CSL Learners’ Acquisition and Processing of Chinese MVCs

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Chapter 6 English CSL Learners’ Acquisition and Processing of Chinese MVCs

The typological differences of finite and nonfinite distinctions may not only influence Chinese learners’ written production and L2 processing of English MVCs,but also have an effect on English learners’ acquisition and processing of Chinese MVCs. How learners from the L1 with morphological [+-F] distinction acquire and process the semantic finiteness and compound predicates in the L2,remains unclear.

This chapter focuses on English CSL learners’ acquisition and processing of Chinese MVCs. It is a parallel study to that described in Chapter Five,using similar integrated research methods including learners’ interlanguage corpus,offline grammatical judgment test and online self-paced reading tasks for the purpose of a bi-directional comparison. The research in this chapter aims to investigate how cross-linguistic differences influence L2 learners’ different types of knowledge including production,explicit knowledge and implicit knowledge of the lexical cues in Chinese MVCs. Before that,Table 28 is displayed to remind us of the cross-linguistic differences in the Chinese and English MVCs.

There are two types of cross-linguistic differences between Chinese and English MVCs,which are respectively type I:both have finite and non-finite distinctions but the cue to distinguish them have differences;and type II:English has a finite and non-finite distinction while in Chinese pivotal and serial-events sentences aspectual morphemes can be after V2 and thus both verbs are interpreted as finite.

Table 28 The Comparison Between Chinese and English MVCs in Chinese as the L2 Study

Table 28 The Comparison Between Chinese and English MVCs in Chinese as the L2 Study-Continued

The form-meaning mapping in Chinese is opaque and optional,as the aspectual markers are not compulsory in MVCs,and morphemes such as “le” can function to indicate the perfective aspect or the completion of the whole sentence. Additionally,the compound predicates in Chinese MVCs have no counterparts in learners’ L1. Thus,this may pose a learnability problem for English CSL learners.

6.1 Corpus-based Analysis of English CSL Learners’ Written Production*

With the rapid development of “teaching Chinese as foreign language” since the mid-1990s,there has been some research based on Chinese interlanguage corpus in the study of the acquisition of Chinese grammatical features. These include research on negators,the bi comparative structure,degree adverbs,gei sentences,double object structures,and figures of speech(Hua,2009;Shen,2009;M. Wang,2005;D. Yang,2004;Y. Yuan,2005;Zheng,2006;Zhou & Hong,2010). There have also been error analysis studies on Chinese pivotal and serial-event sentences by learners of different language backgrounds(Sun,2008;Zhou,2009). However,no research to date has explored the acquisition of MVCs by English L2 learners from the perspective of cross-linguistic influences.

6.1.1 Question

With the inductive approach,the following three research questions were addressed:

What non-target-like usages English CSL learners have in Chinese MVCs?

Where non-target-like use is observed,is this a reflection of the cross-linguistic differences between English and Chinese MVCs?

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

6.1.2 Methods

6.1.2.1 HSK Dynamic Composition Corpus

Large-scale learners’ interlanguage corpus in Chinese L2 includes the “Chinese Library Retrieval System” completed by the Beijing Language Institute in 1995;“Foreign Students’ Chinese Interlanguage Error Corpus” established by Nanjing Normal University with 900,000 Chinese characters in 2009;“Sun Yat-Sen University foreign students interlanguage corpus” set up by Sun Yat-Sen University with 700,000 Chinese characters in 2008;“Jinan University overseas students interlanguage corpus” by Jinan University with 3,000,000 characters,and “HSK dynamic composition corpus” by Beijing Language and Culture University in 2006 with 4,240,000 characters. HSK dynamic composition corpus collected over 20,000 compositions by 11569 students in the HSK exams from 1992 to 2005 and it is the largest foreign students’ interlanguage corpus in China. The errors are tagged with characters,words,sentences,passages,and punctual marks,and it is open to the public. Ren(2010)has noted that among the large-scale foreign student’s interlanguage corpora,HSK is the only accessible one by the public and the others are only for internal use. This leads to the insufficient corpora-based studies(Zhang,2010). In consideration of the scale,coverage,and accessibility of the corpora,HSK dynamic composition corpus was chosen for the investigation of English learners’ MVCs acquisition in Chinese as L2.

The HSK dynamic composition corpus contains metadata about students’ background such as age,country,and language skill level. In the corpus,46 error types were labeled. The errors range from character level,word level,sentence level,to discourse level. {}is the wrong sentence tagger used to identify sentence misuses. Sentences were tagged with this tagger after the sentence,before the sentence punctuation,and pinyin were added to briefly indicate the type of misuse.

6.1.2.2 Research Participants

The current research chose all Chinese L2 learners from the UK who took HSK from 1996 to 2005 as participants,and probed into the misuses in using the four kinds of sentences,i.e.,verb-subject,verb-object,pivotal and serial-event sentences. There were 108 participants,and one of them was not recorded with a score,so there were 107 valid written compositions. Table 29 displays the brief information of English CSL learners.

Table 29 Description of High- and Low-proficiency Learners in HSK Dynamic Composition Corpus

The participants were classified into two groups according to their band of the certificate in the HSK exams,in which certificate band A and B were ranked as the high-proficiency learners while certificate C and no certificate were ranked as the low-proficiency learners. This classification method was also used by Wu(2014)in a classificatory study of Chinese as L2 learners’ grammatical misuses.

6.1.2.3 Procedure and Coding Method

Sentences with verbs as subject,object,pivotal sentences and serial events sentences were all extracted from 107 raw compositions written by English CSL learners from the UK. The misuse types were divided to mis-positioned aspectual morphemes(wrong-place “le”),lexical collocations and mixed sentences(two or more sentences combing together). Table 30 shows the coding method used in the current research. Examples of misuses are listed in(26)-(29).

Table 30 Coding Method in Analyzing the HSK Dynamic Composition Corpus

Examples of misuses:

The examples of learners’ misuses are as follows:

a. Mispositioned aspectual morpheme

(26)我现在靠了自己的实力当上一位小学教师。(high proficiency)

wǒ xiàn zài kào le zì jǐ de shílì dāng shàng yī wèi xiǎo xuéjiāo shī.

I now rely ASP(le)on my own ability become a primary school teacher.

This sentence should be “wǒ xiànzài kào zìjǐ de shílì dāng shàngle yīwèi xiǎoxué jiàoshī”(I now rely on my own ability become PFV a primary school teacher.)“le” is after V2 to indicate the completion of the event.

(27)我最终偷偷跑去了学摩托车。(low proficiency)

wǒ zuì zhōng tōu tōu pǎo qù le xué mó tuō chē.

I at last secretly go PFV learn motorbike.

The grammatical sentence is “wǒ zuìzhōng tōutōu pǎoqù xuéle mótuōchē”(I at last secretly go learn PFV motorbike.)“le” should be after V2 if the event continuum has completed.

b. Lexical collocation misuses:

(28)父母一定要给他们一个良好的榜样。(low proficiency)

fù mǔ yī dìng yào gěi tā men yī gè liáng hǎo de bǎng yàng.

Parents should give them a good example.

The grammatically correct sentence is “fùmǔ yīdìng yàogěi tāmen zuò yīgè liánghǎo de bǎngyàng”(parents should gěi them do a good example). In single-verb sentences,“gěi” has the meaning of “give”,and can be used as “give somebody something”. However,in pivotal sentences,“gěi” is grammaticalized and is a preposition,so the V2 “be” cannot be omitted.

c. Mixed sentences:

(29)刚看完这个故事,真使我忍俊不禁。(high proficiency)

gāng kàn wán zhège gùshì,zhēn shǐ wǒ rěnjùnbùjīn.

Just read finish this story,really make me laugh.

The grammatically correct sentence is “zhège gùshì zhēn shǐwǒ rěnjùnbùjīn”(this story really make me laugh). Verb phrases with topic time “gāng kàn wán”(just read finish)cannot function as the subject,so the sentence “I just finish reading this story” and “this story makes me laugh” were mixed together by the learners.

6.1.3 Results

Before the data analysis,normalization was performed by dividing the total number of words by the number of participants in each group and the results multiplied by the misuse counts(See Table 31).

Table 31 shows that low proficiency learners had lexical collocation misuses in using pivotal sentences and serial-event sentences which respectively accounted for 80% and 100% of the total forms of misuses,and 20% of the misuse form in pivotal sentences was the wrong place aspectual morpheme “le”. High proficiency learners had the misuse of mixed sentences in verb-subject and pivotal sentences,and mis-positioned aspectual morphemes in serial-event sentences. The amounts of the misuses among high- and low-proficiency learners were similar in the four types of sentences.

The small number of misuses can either be interpreted as Chinese MVCs not being a difficulty for English learners or that learners avoided using MVCs. To further check if there were differences in the total usage of MVCs between the two groups of learners,I calculated the frequency of the usages of MVCs in the two groups(see Table 31). It was found that high-proficiency learners used verb subject,pivotal and serial-event sentences more frequently than low-proficiency learners,but low-proficiency learners had a more frequent usage of verb-object sentences. This indicates that except for the verb-object sentences,high-proficiency learners used MVCs more frequently than low-proficiency learners. Figure 6 gives a depiction of English CSL learners’ usage and misuses of MVCs.

Table 31 Description of the Use of MVC Sentences by English CSL Learners

Figure 6 English CSL Learners’ Usage and Misuses of MVCs in HSK Dynamic Composition Corpus

In general,a few misuses in Chinese MVCs were found among English learners,and the misuse forms were mis-positioned aspectual morphemes,improper lexicon allocations,and mixed sentences. More misuses were found in pivotal and serial-event sentences than in verb-subject and verb-object sentences. In comparison with low-proficiency learners,high-proficiency learners had more frequent usage in most of the MVC sentences except in the verb-object sentences. High-proficiency learners also had a more frequent usage of aspectual markers in MVCs.

6.1.4 Discussion

6.1.4.1 Cross-linguistic Influence in the Production of Chinese MVCs

The mis-positioned aspectual morphemes found in pivotal and serial-event sentences among English CSL learners are argued to be attributed to the cross-linguistic influence from the L1 morpho-syntax. The typological differences between English [-F] as object complement or adverbial sentences and Chinese pivotal or serial-event sentences are in the finite and nonfinite distinction. In pivotal or serial-event sentences,aspectual morphemes(e.g.,perfective marker “le”)can be put after V2 to indicate the completeness of the event continuum,and thus both verbs are finite. This is different from the clear finite and non-finite distinction in English,even though the word order,positions of verbs in these sentences are reminiscent between English and Chinese. English CSL learners may have regarded “le”(perfective aspectual particle)as the marker of past tense(-ed),and added “le” after the matrix verb to express the past time(see examples in(26)(27)and misuse counts in Table 31). Therefore,morpho-syntactic transfer occurred. This interpretation is also confirmed by the fact that no mis-positioned aspectual markers were observed in verb-subject or verb-object sentences,as in these sentences the position of “le” is consistent with the position of “-ed” in the English counterpart. The corpus-based analysis indicates that the morphological finiteness in English did have some influence on the production of Chinese MVCs in L2,and the influence was reflected as morpho-syntactic transfer.

The current research provides new evidence on how English morpho-syntactic features influence the acquisition of Chinese structures. This is consistent with Jin(2009)’s findings that English CSL learners are inclined to regard morpheme “le” as a tense marker and equate it to the English “-ed”. The present findings imply that English learners not only equated the tense marker to the aspectual marker to express the temporal information,but also transferred the more abstract property “finiteness”,which is marked by the tense marker in their L1,to Chinese.

6.1.4.2 The Role of L2 Proficiency in the Production of Chinese MVCs

L2 proficiency was not found to make a difference in the number of misuses,however,it played an important role in the frequency of using MVCs. That is,the higher the L2 proficiency,the more usage of pivotal and serial-events sentences. This can be interpreted as the natural developmental sequence in the L2 acquisition,that is,learners developed L2 competence gradually,from using simple sentences to complex sentences,and with the development of the L2 proficiency,learners would be more and more confident in using the relatively complex sentences. It may also be argued to be the intentional avoidance as a communication strategy. “It is obvious that communication strategy is the conscious employment of verbal mechanisms for communicating an idea when linguistic forms are not available to the learner for some reasons”(Heydari & Bagheri,2012,p. 1584). L2-Chinese learners were found to underuse pivotal sentences and serial-event sentences in comparison with Chinese natives in previous corpus-based studies(Sun,2008;Zhou,2009),and the present study showed that English CSL learners of low-proficiency had even fewer usages of these sentences.

Other misused forms include the mixed sentences and improper lexicon allocation(see example(28)(29)). These were possibly attributed to the intralingual or developmental misuses,suggesting learners’ unfamiliarity to the sentence patterns and lexicon allocation due to inadequate learning.

In sum,these results answered the research questions about what non-target like usages English CSL learners may have,and if they are a reflection of the cross-linguistic influence. The corpus analysis showed three types of misuses:mis-positioned aspectual morphemes,lexicon collocations and mixed sentences. Mis-positioned aspectual morphemes were argued to be the reflection of cross-linguistic influence from L1 reminiscent sentences. Furthermore,the sentence types in Chinese MVCs did make a difference;that is,mis-positioned aspectual morphemes were not noticed in sentences with verb-subject or verb-object. Misuses appeared randomly among CSL learners of different proficiencies,and no certain tendency was found with the increase of proficiency. However,L2 proficiency was found to play a role in the frequency of using MVCs,that is,except for the verb-object sentences,low proficiency learners tended to use fewer MVCs.

6.1.4.3 Limitations

Even though HSK is one of the largest Chinese L2 learners’ interlanguage corpora,there are some limitations in the corpus analysis. First,the Chinese as L2 learners’ interlanguage corpus has the limitation of small-scale,unbalanced learners’ background and inaccurate annotation. McEnery and Xiao(2016)stated that:

Existing Chinese learner corpora also suffer from a lack of balance in terms of learners’ first language backgrounds and the nature of the data included in the corpora. They are seriously biased towards Asian learners such as Korean,Japanese,and Southeast Asian learners,while learners from Europe and the Americas are seriously under-represented. The range of genres in the learner material is limited-such corpora are almost exclusively composed of compositions completed by foreign learners under test conditions. They also suffer from inaccurate and inconsistent annotation and limited public availability(p. 449).

Second,as a common disadvantage in all corpora studies,the recorded learners’ nationality cannot fully expose learners’ learning background. This is very different from Chinese ESL learners’ interlanguage corpora,because English is the compulsory course in China and students have similar classroom instruction background with the same syllabus and textbooks. By comparison,English CSL learners who attended HSK may acquire Chinese by natural exposure,self-study,or classroom instruction,which to some degree blurs the source of influence.

Even though a handful of misuses were found in the corpus analysis,with the factors of a small-size sample pool,naturalistic productions and possibly varied learning methods,it is immature to argue that English learners had no difficulty in acquiring Chinese MVCs. The corpus analysis in the current study exposed the morpho-syntactic transfer from English [+-F] distinction to Chinese pivotal and serial-event sentences,which implies that learners may be not aware of the function of the lexical cues in interpreting Chinese MVCs.

To sum up,this section specified the corpus analysis of English CSL learners’ production of Chinese MVCs. The results indicated the cross-linguistic influence in the form of the mis-positioned aspectual markers in English CSL learners’ production of pivotal and serial-event sentences. It suggests that English CSL learners may have used the tense cues in their L1 to interpret and compose Chinese structures with multiple verbs. It thus raises the question about whether English learners have the knowledge of the lexical cue to distinguish the finite and non-finite verbs in Chinese MVCs. Therefore,grammaticality judgment tests were designed and will be introduced in the next section.

6.2 English CSL Learners’ Explicit Knowledge of the Lexical Cue in Chinese MVCs

In comparison with the explicit,consistent English morphological distinction of finite and non-finite verbs in all types of MVCs,multiple verbs in Chinese mono-clause present the character of implicity in cue and opacity in interpretation. Interrelations among multiple verbs can be diagnosed in the way of “broad morphology”(Fang,1939). It means that even though there are no morphological inflections in Chinese,it is a characteristic that some Chinese words can combine with each other,but others cannot,and this plays an important role in Chinese syntax. In Chinese MVCs,where the aspectual adverb “yǐjīng”(already)can be combined shows the dynamic state of the verb [e.g.,“chōuyān yǐjīng wéihài tā de jiànkāng”,(smoke already harm his health)](Li & Thompson,1981;Xing,2004). This cue is in lexical rather than morphological level. To check if English learners have the metalinguistic knowledge of the lexical cue among multiple verbs,a grammaticality judgment test was designed.

6.2.1 Question and Hypothesis

The question:if English CSL learners have the explicit knowledge of the diagnostic lexical cue in distinguishing [+-F] in Chinese MVCs and if the L2 proficiency affects this.

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章节目录

  • 6.1 Corpus-based Analysis of English CSL Learners’ Written ProductionLinguistics and Literature Studies,8(2):57-63.">*
    1. 6.1.1 Question
    2. 6.1.2 Methods
      1. 6.1.2.1 HSK Dynamic Composition Corpus
      2. 6.1.2.2 Research Participants
      3. 6.1.2.3 Procedure and Coding Method
    3. 6.1.3 Results
    4. 6.1.4 Discussion
      1. 6.1.4.1 Cross-linguistic Influence in the Production of Chinese MVCs
      2. 6.1.4.2 The Role of L2 Proficiency in the Production of Chinese MVCs
      3. 6.1.4.3 Limitations
  • 6.2 English CSL Learners’ Explicit Knowledge of the Lexical Cue in Chinese MVCs
    1. 6.2.1 Question and Hypothesis
    2. 6.2.2 Experimental Design
      1. 6.2.2.1 Materials
      2. 6.2.2.2 Proficiency Test
      3. 6.2.2.3 Procedure
    3. 6.2.3 Results
    4. 6.2.4 Discussion
    5. 6.2.5 Limitations
  • 6.3 English CSL Learners’ Online Processing of Chinese MVCs*
    1. 6.3.1 Question and Hypothesis
    2. 6.3.2 Methods
      1. 6.3.2.1 SPR in Chinese
      2. 6.3.2.2 Materials
      3. 6.3.2.4 Procedure
    3. 6.3.3 Results
    4. 6.3.4 Discussion
      1. 6.3.4.1 English CSL Learners and Chinese Natives’ Differences in Processing the Lexical Cues in Defining the Functions of Multiple Verbs in Chinese MVCs
      2. 6.3.4.2 Relations between the Explicit Knowledge and the Implicit Knowledge
    5. 6.3.5 Limitations
  • 6.4 Chapter Summary

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