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ERIC Number: ED535670
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 272
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-2670-0670-7
The Use of Le by L1 Chinese Speakers and the Acquisition of Le by L2 Chinese Learners
Bredeche, Chi Chen
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, City University of New York
The perfective marker V-"le" is claimed to be one of the most problematic items in the acquisition of L2 Chinese, perhaps because no unified and comprehensive treatment of it exists in the literature. Although much has been written on this topic, the semantic and pragmatic functions of V-"le" have remained elusive. While linguists and grammarians all agree that V-"le" performs multiple functions, there has been no consensus on its meaning and usage. Adding to this complex situation is that V-"le" is not always syntactically obligatory in Mandarin Chinese. Even though scholars are well aware of the phenomenon of "optionality" with Chinese aspect markers, disagreement and ambiguity prevail. Smith (1997) claims that V-le, like other aspect markers in Chinese, is always syntactically optional. Li and Thompson (1981) claim that the use of V-"le" depends largely on the speaker's viewpoint as to whether an event is "bounded" or not. Both seem to suggest global optionality. In contrast, textbooks written for Chinese L2 learners discuss V-"le" as obligatory in various different contexts. Having found no established and unified treatment of V-"le" that reflects native speaker's knowledge regarding its obligatory and optional use, we conducted a larger survey of 482 native speakers, 316 adolescents and 166 adults, in an attempt to capture some generalizations on the obligatory and optional use of -"le" in various contexts. Our results show a range of frequencies, from very high (98% to 100%) in the context of accomplishment predicates and activity predicates as the first event in a sequence; to high (67% to 84%) in the context of achievement predicates; to variable (31% to 64%) in the context of resultative verb complements. We argue that this pattern of V-"le" suppliance can be derived by positing a hierarchy of boundedness in the predicate and that it follows a redundancy principle in discourse. The results from learners' data suggest that they acquired the knowledge of the perfective marking in the obligatory context after 300-400 hours of classroom instruction. They consistently used -"le" with accomplishment verbs and activity verbs as the first event in a sequence. They also consistently omitted -"le" with resultative verb complements, a hint of their implicit understanding of the semantic cues given by the predicates. In sum, the learners had a good understanding of the semantic properties of the verb class and had acquired a good, but not yet native-like, knowledge about the interaction between the perfective marker V-"le" and the lexical and semantic properties of different verb type categories. [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:]
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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