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ERIC Number: EJ1030435
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 25
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1048-9223
The Functions of the Nontarget "Be" in the Written Interlanguage of Chinese Learners of English
Yang, Suying
Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, v21 n3 p279-303 2014
Through examining all instances of the nontarget "be" before verbs in the written interlanguage of Chinese learners at different proficiency levels, the present study reveals that nontarget "be" performs different functions, and there is a function shift from low to high proficiency levels. At the lowest levels, "be" is used more as a general filler for different functional categories in INFL (inflection). As the proficiency level increases, "be" becomes more specialized in marking tense/voice. Finally at the highest level, "be" only performs the function of marking passive voice of unaccusative verbs. It is argued that the different functions of nontarget "be" derive from different sources: deficient knowledge of surface verbal morphology and learnability problems posed by the marked argument alignment of unaccusative verbs. It is further argued that the function shift is strong proof that wrong instantiation of functional categories will disappear when knowledge of verbal morphology increases, but the learnability problem posed by the unusual semantics-syntax mapping of unaccusative verbs will persist into advanced developmental stages.
Psychology Press. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Hong Kong