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Learning to express motion events in L2 Chinese : a cognitive linguistic perspective

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Item Summary

Title: Learning to express motion events in L2 Chinese : a cognitive linguistic perspective
Authors: Wu, Shu-Ling
Keywords: Chinese
Issue Date: Aug 2011
Publisher: [Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2011]
Abstract: Research has shown that speakers of different languages conceptualize motion events in a language-specific manner. First-language (L1) predispositions for spatial organization or event construal have the potential to exert influence on second-language (L2) acquisition of motion expressions. Chinese, like English, is traditionally considered to be a satellite-framed language (Talmy, 1985, 1991, 2000). However, as a serial-verb language, Chinese exhibits different lexicalization patterns from English with respect to path encoding. Adopting the framework of Talmy (1985, 1991, 2000) for typological classification of motion events as well as Slobin's thinking-for-speaking (TFS) hypothesis (Slobin, 1987, 1996a), this dissertation offers an intra-typological comparison of Chinese and English and examines the various contributing factors that influence the use and acquisition of L2 Chinese motion expressions by adult L1 English speakers.
This study employed a multi-task approach, including a picture-cued written task, an oral narrative task, and an online judgment task, to measure learners' L2 TFS performance across different modalities. It discusses the behavior of 80 L2 Chinese learners at two proficiency levels, including participants with heritage background as well as those of foreign language background, as compared to two baseline groups of 40 Chinese native speakers (NSs) and 40 English NSs. The learners' performance was inspected according to their proficiency level and language background and was compared with that of the NS groups.
The results of this study show that L2 speakers' development in learning to describe motion events in Chinese is influenced by factors including their L2 proficiency level, the degree of syntactic and semantic complexity of the L2 subsystems, construal of L2 motion constructions, and language background. These factors go beyond a simple dichotomy of L1 or L2 thinking, and together they suggest that the influence of L1 TFS, like other kinds of L1 transfer phenomena, are sensitive to probabilistic tendencies. Conceptual changes in the course of L2 acquisition of motion expressions are dynamic and ongoing processes, in which multiple factors can come into play to determine whether or how L1 TFS affects L2 learning outcomes. Notably, among these factors, learners' embodied experiences for communicative use of motion expressions play a vital role in their internalization of L2 TFS.
Description: Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2011.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D. - East Asian Languages and Literatures (Chinese)

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