1. Transfer at initial stages of L3 Mandarin: the acquisition of temporal-aspectual sentence final particles by English-Cantonese bilinguals
by Guo, Yanyu
Abstract: The study examines the transfer source at the third language (L3) initial stage by examining the acquisition of Mandarin sentence-final particles le, ne and laizhe by Cantonese-English bilinguals. Both Mandarin and Cantonese use sentence final particles to denote temporal-aspectual meanings, while English employs tense/aspect markers to express those meanings. Hence Cantonese is predicted to be the source of transfer in our L3 study on the basis of the Typological Primacy Model (TPM; Rothman, 2010, 2011, 2015) and the Linguistic Proximity Model (LPM; Westergaard et al., 2016). Data from a sentence-picture matching task confirm the prediction that initial transfer is from the structurally/typologically similar language Cantonese and the transfer is facilitative. The results also show that lack of enough evidence in the L3 input can result in unacquirability of a certain particle.
2. Encoding of anaphoric and associational definiteness in English speakers’ L2 Mandarin grammars
by Xiang, Jingting
Abstract: Research on L2A has extended from a level of principals and parameters to one of features associated with lexical and functional categories (Lardiere, 2009, among others). With a feature-based approach, our empirical study examines how L1 English L2 Mandarin speakers reassemble the [+definite] features in their L2 Mandarin grammars.
In Mandarin, an article-less language, the [±definite] features are represented through a more complicated system (than in English) with the support of bare nouns ([±definite]), numerals ([±definite]), classifiers ([-definite]), or demonstratives([+definite]). In order to examine how L1 English L2 Mandarin speakers express different types of definiteness in real time, we conduct a picture-elicited production task with 57 L1 English L2 Mandarin speakers divided into three proficiency groups (17 beginner, 21 intermediate, and 19 advanced) and 22 native Mandarin speakers as a control group. Both tasks contain 16 critical sentences in four conditions of definiteness (i.e. four tokens in each condition), which are anaphoric definiteness in subject/object positions and associational definiteness in subject/object positions.