This paper reports an empirical study investigating the effects and recoverability of L1 transfer at the L2 syntax-discourse interface in English speakers' L2 grammars of Chinese "daodi...wh-" questions. An experiment was conducted with an acceptability judgment test, a sentence combination task, and a discourse completion task, and 95 English speakers at various Chinese proficiency levels participated in the experiment. The results suggest that English speakers are able to acquire the syntactic structure of "daodi...wh-", but the behaviours of the structure are generally influenced by their L1 discourse constraints at earlier stages of their L2 Chinese. Removing the L1 influence of the aggressively non-D-linking properties is found to be possible, but recovering from the L1 transfer is persistently vulnerable at the syntax-discourse interface involving appropriate answers to Chinese "daodi...wh-" modal questions, where the L1 and the Chinese discourse constraints are found co-existent in the L2 Chinese grammars. This is accounted for in terms of availability of positive evidence in the input.
Proceedings of the 11th Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition Conference (GASLA 2011)
edited by Julia Herschensohn and Darren Tanner
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