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ERIC Number: ED475018
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 14
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Indefinite Subject NPs Between English and Chinese: An Error Analysis.
Hsin, Ai-li Cindy
Run-on sentences are common mistakes made by Chinese English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students. One type of these errors, with the structure of an expletive subject "there" and a verb "to be" at the beginning of the sentence, is persistent and not easy to detect and correct. This study proposes that this type of error derives from the different syntactic presentations for indefinite subject noun phrase (NP) between English and Chinese. Chinese does not allow an indefinite NP to be the subject of a sentence unless it is preceded by a syntactic marker "you," which is a verb in current Mandarin Chinese meaning existence or owing. "You" introduces an indefinite NP into the sentence as the subject/topic, which is then followed by the predicate/comment of the sentence. However, English does not have this requirement, as both definite and indefinite NPs can be the subject without any particular marker. On the other hand, English has a presentation structure to introduce an indefinite NP to a discourse and that is with the expletive subject "there" and the verb "to be," followed by the indefinite NP. Since the meaning of the presentation structure is identical with the Chinese syntactic marker, and both constructions are associated with the indefinite NP, Chinese EFL students tend to translate the Chinese "you" sentences directly to English "there-be" sentence structures without noticing that there is more than one finite verb in the English sentence. Because the marking for the indefinite subject in Chinese is more like a semantic requirement than a syntactic process, this unconscious carry-over of the first language interference in learning English is hard to detect and correct. (Contains 12 references.) (Author/SM)
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A