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Title:The learning of coreferential NP reductions by adult Persian speakers
Author(s):Tegey, Margery Elisabeth
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Maclay, Howard S.
Department / Program:Linguistics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Language, Linguistics
Abstract:A study of adult Persian speakers learning certain coreferential NP reductions in English was planned and executed. The main purpose of the study was to validate empirically several key hypotheses in second learning theory, with a secondary purpose being to obtain a description of what is difficult and what is easier for the learner. The study first sought to validate a central hypothesis in the field that a second language learner operates according to coherent linguistic system, one intermediate between his native language and the target language and distinct from both. It did so by looking for systematicity in the learner's apparently random performance on NP reductions by examining their operation in as many environments and sub-environments as possible. The study did find evidence of systematicity, of patterning in the Afghan Persian speakers' performance on these English NP reductions in that there did exist significant, statable difficulty rankings or orderings among the categories defined by the various sub-environments. The superficially erratic performance on NP reductions was in fact highly structured. This finding lends support to the hypothesis that the learner possesses a distinct, internally structured linguistic system and is not making random mistakes. In the process of examining the date, the study also established which categories outrank which others--i.e. which processes in which sub-environments are easier and which are harder. Since relatively little has been done in this purely descriptive line, such information becomes of great practical interest for teachers.
The second theoretical issue addressed by the study was the question of whether the relative difficulty of categories obtained for one group of learners would correlate with the difficulty orderings obtained for another group of learners. The search for consistency of results across different groups of students is a key issue in second language learning theory. Underlying it is the theoretical question of whether there are universals that direct second language learning. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.)
Issue Date:1989
Rights Information:Copyright 1989 Tegey, Margery Elisabeth
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI8924958
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI8924958

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