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Null and overt pronoun interpretation in L2 Mandarin resultative constructions

Null and overt pronoun interpretation in L2 Mandarin resultative constructions
Null and overt pronoun interpretation in L2 Mandarin resultative constructions
This experimental study examines the acquisition of null and overt pronoun interpretations in Chinese as a second language by native speakers of English. A linguistic phenomenon not present in the native language of the learners is identified: the null element in the embedded subject position of Mandarin resultative constructions can only refer to the main-clause subject, while an overt pronoun in the same position can refer both to the main-clause subject and to another entity in the discourse. Thus the acquisition task includes learning a new functional morpheme, a null element, as well as constraining its interpretation in the resultative construction. We tested 59 L2 learners of Chinese at different proficiency levels and 51 native Mandarin speakers on a truth value judgment task. The learners showed a pattern of interpretation that was statistically indistinguishable from the native speakers’ in all but one context. We argue that our findings point to largely successful acquisition of the requisite proform interpretations, even though the restrictions on the interpretation of null elements cannot be transferred from the native language.
pronoun interpretation, adult second language acquisition, null elements, reference, Mandarin as a second language
1879-9264
Slabakova, Roumyana
1bda11ce-ce3d-4146-8ae3-4a486b6f5bde
Zhao, Lucy
791ec1b6-2b7f-4ece-9ba2-8939521660fb
Baker, Lewis
cb5cfccb-fe33-4b9a-b3fa-1804bc48dad4
Turner, James
fd6de0d7-09f9-44e7-9425-c654cccd3475
Tuniyan, Elina
51dcd6ad-8f6a-45db-885d-b32e12b9d018
Slabakova, Roumyana
1bda11ce-ce3d-4146-8ae3-4a486b6f5bde
Zhao, Lucy
791ec1b6-2b7f-4ece-9ba2-8939521660fb
Baker, Lewis
cb5cfccb-fe33-4b9a-b3fa-1804bc48dad4
Turner, James
fd6de0d7-09f9-44e7-9425-c654cccd3475
Tuniyan, Elina
51dcd6ad-8f6a-45db-885d-b32e12b9d018

Slabakova, Roumyana, Zhao, Lucy, Baker, Lewis, Turner, James and Tuniyan, Elina (2023) Null and overt pronoun interpretation in L2 Mandarin resultative constructions. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism.

Record type: Article

Abstract

This experimental study examines the acquisition of null and overt pronoun interpretations in Chinese as a second language by native speakers of English. A linguistic phenomenon not present in the native language of the learners is identified: the null element in the embedded subject position of Mandarin resultative constructions can only refer to the main-clause subject, while an overt pronoun in the same position can refer both to the main-clause subject and to another entity in the discourse. Thus the acquisition task includes learning a new functional morpheme, a null element, as well as constraining its interpretation in the resultative construction. We tested 59 L2 learners of Chinese at different proficiency levels and 51 native Mandarin speakers on a truth value judgment task. The learners showed a pattern of interpretation that was statistically indistinguishable from the native speakers’ in all but one context. We argue that our findings point to largely successful acquisition of the requisite proform interpretations, even though the restrictions on the interpretation of null elements cannot be transferred from the native language.

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Accepted/In Press date: 15 October 2022
Published date: 10 January 2023
Keywords: pronoun interpretation, adult second language acquisition, null elements, reference, Mandarin as a second language

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 471584
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/471584
ISSN: 1879-9264
PURE UUID: fcba0264-88df-4513-93d7-103ee0b2cac5
ORCID for Roumyana Slabakova: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-5839-460X
ORCID for Lewis Baker: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-8348-4677
ORCID for James Turner: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-6724-3056

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 14 Nov 2022 17:37
Last modified: 12 Jun 2024 04:05

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Contributors

Author: Lucy Zhao
Author: Lewis Baker ORCID iD
Author: James Turner ORCID iD
Author: Elina Tuniyan

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