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Title:The Acquisition of English Restrictive Relative Clauses by Native Speakers of Persian
Author(s):Sadighi, Firooz
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Language, Linguistics
Education, Secondary
Abstract:This study examines the Persians' comprehension ability in processing different types of English restrictive relative clauses. A comprehension experiment with 50 Iranians was conducted to search for the universal linguistic factors responsible for the ease or difficulty of these sentences. Three hypotheses were evaluated--Interruption, Word Order Re-arrangement, and Parallel Function. The results of the experiment support two of the hypotheses, i.e., Interruption and Word Order Re-arrangement cause difficulty in the comprehension of relative clauses. This finding is consistent with those of Sheldon (1977) for adult English speakers and Houston (1978) for the Saudis. For the Arabs, unlike Iranians, Parallel Function was found to be significant.
Another question of interest is to determine if an invariant learning sequence exists for relative clauses. This position does not gain support. The results do not show a correspondence among different language groups. The nature of elicitation methods employed in different studies and the overreliance of different language groups on different processing strategies account for this incompatibility.
The processing strategies among these subjects and other L1/L2 learners of English were studied. The results show that all language learners have the same processing strategies at their disposal; however, the extent of overreliance on each strategy differentiates them. The results found here are compatible with the universality of language learning strategies.
There is a striking correspondence between the accessibility hierarchy (AH) investigated by Keenan and Comrie (1972) for all natural languages of the world and the order of difficulty found here when the head-NP is in subject position and the NP-rel. stands in all the positions on the AH.
Finally, a major implication of this study is that neither the strong version of the Contrastive Analysis (CA) hypothesis, nor the hypothesis that the areas of difficulty are mainly due to the inherent difficulty of the target language structures can explain the comprehension of relative clauses in English. Thus, it can be maintained that universal factors determine the general outline of learning.
Issue Date:1982
Description:144 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1982.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8218554
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1982

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