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Exploring the role of previously acquired languages in third language (L3) acquisition: a feature-based approach

Exploring the role of previously acquired languages in third language (L3) acquisition: a feature-based approach
Exploring the role of previously acquired languages in third language (L3) acquisition: a feature-based approach
This thesis explores the role of previously acquired languages in third language (L3) acquisition, providing evidence that L3 transfer is determined by the underlying structural similarities and differences between previously acquired languages and the target L3. The analysis proposes a ‘feature-based’ approach to L3 transfer studies, highlighting the importance of linguistic features and the way in which they are assembled in different languages.

I examine the acquisition of null and overt arguments by L1 English-L2 Spanish-L3 Chinese earners [+SP], conducting a comparative analysis with a group of L1 English-L2 non-null subject language-L3 Chinese learners [-SP]. The three languages of the [+SP] participants are not typologically related, but the L1 and L2 have similarities related to subject pronouns in the L3. Null subjects are allowed in Spanish and Chinese (although there are syntactic differences) and overt subjects behave in a similar way in English and Chinese. Therefore, transfer can occur from the L1 or L2. A Written Production Task (WPT) and a Pronoun Interpretation Task (PIT) test the use and interpretation of arguments, and a Language Relations Questionnaire (LRQ) explores the learners’ perceptions of the relatedness between languages.

The results show transfer from L1 English (overt pronouns) and L2 Spanish (null subjects), indicating that L3 transfer can occur from either the L1/L2, depending on the property being acquired (i.e. it is selective). Furthermore, the data shows that the [+SP] group outperform the [-SP] group with null subjects, indicating that reassembling features associated with null subjects is straightforward despite syntactic differences between the languages. In addition, learners’ perceptions of language relatedness do not play an important role for typologically unrelated languages. Therefore, the study concludes that future L3 transfer studies can make more specific predictions regarding the source of transfer if linguistic features are taken into account.
University of Southampton
Clements, Maria
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Clements, Maria
fd1d49c6-f98b-4be7-8080-5edb19fe2e1a
Dominguez, Laura
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Slabakova, Roumyana
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Hicks, Glyn
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Clements, Maria (2017) Exploring the role of previously acquired languages in third language (L3) acquisition: a feature-based approach. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 238pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This thesis explores the role of previously acquired languages in third language (L3) acquisition, providing evidence that L3 transfer is determined by the underlying structural similarities and differences between previously acquired languages and the target L3. The analysis proposes a ‘feature-based’ approach to L3 transfer studies, highlighting the importance of linguistic features and the way in which they are assembled in different languages.

I examine the acquisition of null and overt arguments by L1 English-L2 Spanish-L3 Chinese earners [+SP], conducting a comparative analysis with a group of L1 English-L2 non-null subject language-L3 Chinese learners [-SP]. The three languages of the [+SP] participants are not typologically related, but the L1 and L2 have similarities related to subject pronouns in the L3. Null subjects are allowed in Spanish and Chinese (although there are syntactic differences) and overt subjects behave in a similar way in English and Chinese. Therefore, transfer can occur from the L1 or L2. A Written Production Task (WPT) and a Pronoun Interpretation Task (PIT) test the use and interpretation of arguments, and a Language Relations Questionnaire (LRQ) explores the learners’ perceptions of the relatedness between languages.

The results show transfer from L1 English (overt pronouns) and L2 Spanish (null subjects), indicating that L3 transfer can occur from either the L1/L2, depending on the property being acquired (i.e. it is selective). Furthermore, the data shows that the [+SP] group outperform the [-SP] group with null subjects, indicating that reassembling features associated with null subjects is straightforward despite syntactic differences between the languages. In addition, learners’ perceptions of language relatedness do not play an important role for typologically unrelated languages. Therefore, the study concludes that future L3 transfer studies can make more specific predictions regarding the source of transfer if linguistic features are taken into account.

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Exploring the role of previously acquired languages in third language (L3) acquisition: a feature-based approach - Accepted Manuscript
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Published date: March 2017

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 414200
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/414200
PURE UUID: 5f610e29-49b5-428b-b107-c2dcf5ed215c
ORCID for Roumyana Slabakova: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-5839-460X
ORCID for Glyn Hicks: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-4126-8655

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Date deposited: 18 Sep 2017 16:31
Last modified: 03 Jun 2019 00:33

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Contributors

Author: Maria Clements
Thesis advisor: Laura Dominguez
Thesis advisor: Roumyana Slabakova ORCID iD
Thesis advisor: Glyn Hicks ORCID iD

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