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Title:Topic-comment constructions in the acquisition of Chinese as a second/foreign language
Author(s):Mu, Zhijun
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Packard, Jerome
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Language and Literature
Language, Linguistics
Abstract:The main purpose of this study is to investigate factors involved in the learning of five Mandarin Chinese 'topic' constructions by adult English speakers in a formal classroom setting. The focal point of investigation is the effect the subject-prominence of English grammar has on the learning of Chinese topic constructions. All five types of topic are in the surface structural form of topic-subject-verb-(object).
It is found that first, in the acquisition process, language transfer in conjunction with language markedness values is a major influential factor. Secondly, among these five types of topic constructions, the dou structure is the earliest to be acquired despite its uniqueness to English speakers. The optionally derived construction is the hardest to learn even though it is marginally acceptable in English. Thirdly, length of native-speaking residence is found to be an important variable to account for learner's proficiency in Chinese topic sentences.
A secondary purpose of this study is to systematically classify Chinese topic constructions that are in the particular form of topic-subject-verb-(object), i.e., double nominatives before the verb. It is hoped that classifying topic sentences purely according to their surface structural characteristics will better our understanding of L2 learners' errors in learning Chinese topic sentences and thus will enhance the effectiveness of teaching.
This study also provides follow-up suggestions to language teachers in response to learner's errors found in the study.
Issue Date:1994
Rights Information:Copyright 1994 Mu, Zhijun
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9543678
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9543678

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