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A Linguistic Analysis of the Written Production of Second Language Learners: The Variation of Article Usage by Adult Chinese Learners of English
Dalarna University, School of Languages and Media Studies, English. (English Department)
2014 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This study aims to test Robertson’s lexical transfer principle, which posits that Chinese learners use demonstratives (particularly this) and the numeral one as markers of definiteness and indefiniteness. This is tested by analysing Chinese learners’ written production collected from the Spoken and Written English Corpus of Chinese Learners 2.0 (SWECCL 2.0). The purpose is to understand the variation of article usage by adult Chinese learners of English. More specifically, the study examines to what extent articles, possessive and demonstrative pronouns are used in Chinese learners’ English and how definite and indefinite articles are used by the Chinese learners. Findings suggest that Robertson’s lexical transfer principle was corroborated by the present study. In addition, Chinese learners prefer to use demonstrative determiners, the possessive determiner our, and the numeral one to perform the function of marking definiteness and indefiniteness. In particular, the learners try to use the demonstrative determiners that and this in the anaphoric function instead of the definite article, and the demonstrative determiner those is frequently used in the cataphoric function. What is more, the learners use the numeral one as a marker of indefiniteness, and it is also used as a marker of definiteness in the anaphoric function. Further, the possessive determiner our is used as a marker of definiteness in larger situation uses referring to something unique. To this end, the study is able to show that the definite article is used to perform the function of marking indefiniteness, and in some particular contexts the definite article functions as a Chinese specifier in Chinese learners’ English. Also, the indefinite article is frequently used in quantifier phrases but is rarely used in other functions.

There are three main reasons that may explain why Chinese learners use determiners variously. Firstly, the choice of determiners by Chinese learners is influenced by linguistic contexts. Secondly, because of learning strategies, Chinese learners try to ignore the anaphoric function and cataphoric function that they are not yet ready to process in article usage. Thirdly, interlanguage grammar influences the optionality in the use of articles. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. , 58 p.
Keyword [en]
second language acquisition, corpus linguistics, keyword analysis
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-13828OAI: diva2:698458
Available from: 2014-02-24 Created: 2014-02-21 Last updated: 2015-08-10Bibliographically approved

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