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ERIC Number: ED517143
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 228
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1240-3342-6
ISSN: N/A
Syntactic Representations of English in Second Language Learners: An Investigation of the Process of English Sentence Production by Bilingual Speakers Using a Within-Language (L2) Structural Priming Paradigm
Kim, Sunfa
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, State University of New York at Buffalo
This dissertation reports the results of within-English structural priming experiments in language production which investigated the syntactic representations of English syntactic structures in three different bilingual groups: Japanese-English, Korean-English, and Mandarin Chinese-English bilinguals. Specifically, my dissertation research investigates representations of second language (L2 hereafter) syntactic structures in late learners of L2. It addresses the question of whether representations of L2 syntactic structures which exist in speakers' first language and representations of L2 syntactic structures which do "not" exist in speakers' first language have differential influences on the production of subsequent utterances. It does so by looking at priming of L2 syntactic structures that are available in bilinguals' two languages and comparing it with priming of L2 syntactic structures that are available in bilinguals' L2 but not in their first language (L1 hereafter). According to Bock and Levelt's (1994) model of language production, grammatical encoding comprises two phases: functional processing and positional processing. At the level of functional processing, lexical concepts that are suitable for conveying the speaker's message are identified (termed "lexical selection") and grammatical functions (such as subject and direct object) are assigned (termed "functional assignment"). The output of functional processing carries no intrinsic order. Positional processing imposes a sequence on the elements. I hypothesized that the level of functional processing is shared between two languages even if they have different word orders, thereby facilitating late L2 learners to learn L2 syntactic structures with new constituent orders. To test this hypothesis, priming of English (L2) syntactic structures that were available in bilinguals' L1 and L2 was compared with priming of English (L2) syntactic structures that were available in bilinguals' L2 but not in L1. Within-English structural priming experiments of the transitive alternation and the dative alternation were conducted with native speakers of English, and Japanese-English, Korean-English and Mandarin Chinese-English bilingual speakers. On each priming trial, participants first read a priming sentence in a particular syntactic form aloud. Then, a picture unrelated to the priming sentence was presented and the participants described the picture. What was of interest in the present study was the syntactic form of the description the participants produced. The results of Experiment 1 demonstrated that the structures of priming sentences influenced how native speakers of English described the target pictures in both the transitive and dative alternation, replicating previous findings of structural priming effects. Also, there was some evidence that native speakers of English were sensitive to semantic characteristics of priming sentences. The results of Experiment 2 demonstrated that the "same" Japanese-English bilingual participants showed structural priming in the transitive alternation but not in the dative alternation. The results of Experiment 3 replicated the result of Experiment 2 with a new pairing of L1 and L2; the "same" Korean-English bilingual participants showed structural priming in the transitive alternation but not in the dative alternation. Crucially, the transitive alternation exists in L1 Japanese and L1 Korean while the dative alternation does not exist in L1 Japanese and L1 Korean. Thus, representations of L2 syntactic structures which exist in a speaker's first language and representations of L2 syntactic structures which do not exist in a speaker's first language had differential influences on the production of subsequent utterances. The results of Experiment 4 demonstrated the null results in the dative alternation in Experiments 2 and 3 were not due to something peculiar to the structural alternation of datives. Structural priming was found in the dative alternation in Mandarin Chinese-English bilingual speakers. Crucially, the dative alternation exists in L1 Mandarin Chinese. (Abstract shortened by UMI.) [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page: http://www.proquest.com/en-US/products/dissertations/individuals.shtml.]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A