Discrepancy in English Speakers' L2 Acquisition of Chinese Wh-Words as Existential Polarity Words: The L1-Dependent Interface Hypothesis
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This paper reports on an empirical study examining the syntax-semantics interface in English speakers' L2 acquisition of Chinese wh-words as existential polarity words (EPWs). The results show that the licensor-licensee relationship can be established between wh-words and some licensors in English speakers' L2 Chinese, but the yes-no question particle ma, sentence final particle le indicating inference and A-not-A are found to be unable to function as licensors for EPWs in English speakers' L2 Chinese grammars, although they are able to help form a yes-no question or infer the proposition of the sentence tentatively in L2 Chinese. The data are interpreted on the basis of an L1 Dependent Interface Hypothesis, which proposes that grammatical aspects involving an interface between syntax and other cognitive domains can be acquired in L2 grammars, but L2 items/categories which are not available in L1 are not able to acquire any interface feature in L2 acquisition. The lack of the interface feature will cause persistent L2 interface problems, the result of which is that the interface "wiring" will be impossible in L2 grammars.
Proceedings of the 9th Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition Conference (GASLA 2007)
edited by Roumyana Slabakova, Jason Rothman, Paula Kempchinsky, and Elena Gavruseva
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