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ERIC Number: ED549099
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 230
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2673-4679-7
Acquisition of English Verb Transitivity by Native Speakers of Japanese
Nagano, Tomonori
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, City University of New York
This study is concerned with the acquisition of English verb transitivity by native speakers of Japanese. Both a verb's semantic class (Levin, 1993; Pinker, 1989) and its frequency (Ambridge et al., 2008) have been proposed to influence the acquisition of verbs in L1. For example, verbs whose meaning entails change-of-location or change-of-state (e.g., "move," "roll," "bounce," "melt") typically participate in the causative alternation in English. In addition, among those verbs, it is predicted that high-frequency verbs such as "break" and "move" are acquired earlier than low-frequency ones such as "shatter" and "slide". In SLA, a learnability problem is expected when the usage in L1 constitutes a superset of the usage in L2 (Inagaki, 2001; Montrul, 2001). Such asymmetric relationships exist between English and Japanese when there are idiosyncratic exceptions in a verb semantic class in one language but not the other. For example, inherently-directed motion verbs (e.g., "descend," "oriru/ orosu" "descend[subscript intransitive/transitive"]) and verbs of disappearance (e.g., "disappear," "kieru/ kesu" "disappear[subscript intransitive/transitive"]) are prohibited in the causative alternation in English, but not in Japanese. Thus, a learnability problem in the causative alternation is expected for Japanese ESL learners. Twenty-six native English speakers and 35 Japanese ESL learners participated in this computer-based experiment. The data, analyzed with mixed-design ANOVA and mixed-effect linear models, show main and interaction effects of the verb's semantic class and the verb's (log) frequency. Post-hoc analyses indicate that the effect of the verb's semantic class was primarily due to the idiosyncratic exceptional semantic classes, as predicted by the asymmetric relationship in SLA. A strong effect of frequency was found for the acquisition of the idiosyncratic exceptional semantic classes, indicating that frequency plays a critical role in acquiring (unlearning) grammatical constructions that exist in L1 but not in L2. [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