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ERIC Number: EJ889996
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Jul
Pages: 27
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 33
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0267-6583
Deriving Meaning through Context: Interpreting Bare Nominals in Second Language Japanese
Gabriele, Alison
Second Language Research, v26 n3 p379-405 Jul 2010
Previous studies on the second language acquisition of telicity have suggested that learners can use morphosyntactic cues to interpret sentences as telic or atelic even in cases where the cues differ in the first language (L1) and second language (L2) (Slabakova, 2001, 2005; Gabriele, 2008; Kaku et al., 2008a, 2008b). The present study extends this line of research by focusing on a case in which learners cannot rely on morphosyntactic cues in order to reach the appropriate aspectual interpretation. We examine the acquisition of telicity by English-speaking learners of Japanese, focusing on how learners interpret bare count nouns such as "kaado" "card" that obligatorily display count noun morphosyntax in English. In Japanese, a bare noun such as "kaado" is ambiguous with respect to number and therefore a verb phrase such as "kaado-o kakimashita" "wrote card" can be interpreted as either telic "wrote the cards" or atelic "wrote cards" depending on the context. The results of two studies with both intermediate (Study 1: n = 38; Study 2: n = 38) and advanced (Study 1: n = 7; Study 2: n = 10) learners of Japanese show that there are learners at both levels of proficiency that have difficulty with the interpretation of bare count nouns and assign an exclusively telic reading to a verb phrase such as "kaado-o kakimashita" "wrote card". We argue that this interpretation is due to the boundedness of count nouns in L1 English and propose that a retreat from negative transfer is difficult when there is variability in the native speaker input and when meaning has to be derived from context in the absence of morphosyntactic cues. (Contains 14 notes, 3 tables, and 4 figures.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A