19.1874, Diss: Applied Ling: Young: 'Variation in Interlanguage Morphology: ...'

Fri Jun 13 14:02:32 UTC 2008

LINGUIST List: Vol-19-1874. Fri Jun 13 2008. ISSN: 1068 - 4875.

Subject: 19.1874, Diss: Applied Ling: Young: 'Variation in Interlanguage Morphology: ...'

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Date: 12-Jun-2008
From: Richard Young < rfyoung at wisc.edu >
Subject: Variation in Interlanguage Morphology: (s) Plural-marking in the speech of Chinese learners of English


-------------------------Message 1 ---------------------------------- 
Date: Fri, 13 Jun 2008 10:00:35
From: Richard Young [rfyoung at wisc.edu]
Subject: Variation in Interlanguage Morphology: (s) Plural-marking in the speech of Chinese learners of English
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Institution: University of Pennsylvania 
Program: Educational Linguistics program, Graduate School of Education 
Dissertation Status: Completed 
Degree Date: 1989 

Author: Richard F Young

Dissertation Title: Variation in Interlanguage Morphology: (s) Plural-marking
in the speech of Chinese learners of English 

Dissertation URL:  http://proquest.umi.com.ezproxy.library.wisc.edu/pqdweb?did=743975841&sid=1

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics

Subject Language(s): Chinese, Mandarin (cmn)
                     English (eng)

Dissertation Director(s):
Teresa Pica
John Fought
Nessa Wolfson

Dissertation Abstract:

Much work by second language acquisition researchers has focused on how
interlanguage varies across different learners or within the speech of one
learner across different tasks. Previous studies of variation in English as
a second language, however, have led to conflicting and contradictory
claims concerning the causes of variation. The present study suggests that
such contradictions are due to the descriptively inadequate model of
variation used in earlier studies. A multivariate model is proposed and
applied to the analysis of variation in English (s) noun plurals by NSs of

Four major factors are hypothesized to influence variation: convergence
toward the speech patterns of an interlocutor predicted by speech
accommodation theory; level of proficiency in English; the phonological
environment of the -s inflection together with the syntactic function and
semantic features of the noun; and a tendency to omit marking of plural
when it is redundant and to retain it when it transmits necessary
information (the functional hypothesis).

Six low proficiency and six high proficiency NSs of Chinese were
interviewed in English by a fellow Chinese interviewer and a NS
interviewer. A multivariate analysis of the data confirmed that ESL
proficiency had a strong influence on variation, but that the pattern of
variables affecting variation differed for low and high proficiency
learners. For low proficiency learners (s) pluralization was promoted most
strongly by phonotactic factors. For high proficiency learners, however,
phonotactic factors did not have a significant effect on variation.

Contrary to the prediction of speech accommodation theory, the frequency of
(s) plural marking in the speech of Chinese and NS interviewers had no
observable effect on variation in (s) plural marking in the speech of the
informants. And contrary to the prediction of the functional hypothesis,
informants either marked plural redundantly or did not mark it at all. It
appears that informants acquired a set of structural number contrasts and
concord rules rather than a salient semantic notion of number. In addition,
informants applied the pluralization rule almost categorically in a limited
set of prototypical expressions consisting of numerals or quantifiers
modifying plural nouns, with the NP functioning syntactically as an adverbial. 

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