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Title:Native and nonnative speakers' syntactic knowledge of English dative verbs assessed in grammaticality judgments and multiple choice tests
Author(s):Kim, Choonkyong
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):McClure, Erica F.
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Bilingual and Multicultural
Language, Modern
Abstract:This thesis investigated speakers' syntactic knowledge of English dative verbs. In Experiment 1, both native speakers of English and Korean learners of English as a second language made grammaticality judgments about dative sentences in English. This part of the thesis reexamined the roles of markedness and language transfer in the context of Korean as the first language of English learners. Unlike findings in previous studies on the acquisition of English dative alternation by native speakers of French that markedness could predict the pattern of acquisition, results from Experiment 1 showed that markedness and language transfer explain different aspects of the data. In addition, based on high rate of inaccuracy among judgments by native speakers of English, it was questioned that grammaticality judgments might not accurately reflect what speakers know about certain syntactic domains.
Experiment 2 was conducted to explore the possibility of using other types of metalinguistic tests to assess speakers' syntactic knowledge. Both native speakers of English and Korean learners of English took two types of multiple choice tests along with the same grammaticality judgment test used in Experiment 1. The three tests varied along the dimension of speakers' attention to syntactic information, with grammaticality judgments requiring less control over syntactic constraints than the multiple choice tests. The high rate of inaccuracy in making grammaticality judgments persisted in Experiment 2, ranking grammaticality judgments at the lowest among the three tests in assessing syntactic knowledge. Participants' performance improved in the two multiple choice tests, which demanded a highly concentrated attention to the syntax of the verbs. In the case of native speakers of English, their syntactic decisions about English dative verbs in the most demanding test resembled grammarians' characterization of these verbs. This suggested that the syntax of dative alternation as described by linguists is represented in speakers' mind. For this knowledge to influence their syntactic decisions in a metalinguistic task, however, the task must be designed to filter semantic information to a certain extent. The findings in this thesis once again called into question the widely debated issue of the validity of grammaticality judgments as a data gathering tool.
Issue Date:1996
Rights Information:Copyright 1996 Kim, Choonkyong
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9712333
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9712333

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