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Syntacticization of Topic in Japanese and Mandarin Students' English: A Test of Rutherford's Model

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dc.contributor.author Duff, Patricia Ann
dc.date.accessioned 2015-11-19T00:52:30Z
dc.date.available 2015-11-19T00:52:30Z
dc.date.issued 1985
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10125/37662
dc.description.abstract Rutherford (1983) drafted a two-part model to account for the syntacticization of Topic in the English of Japanese and Mandarin learners. For Japanese, he charted the acquisition of English existential constructions with there out of earlier topicalized locative expressions. He characterized Mandarin learners development in terms of the evolution of Subjects from earlier existentials and Topic-Comment constructions. Implicit in Rutherford’s model are assumptions concerning (1) the role of transfer in second language acquisition; (2) typological distinctions between English, Japanese, and Mandarin based on the roles of Topic and Subject; and (3) the naturalness of the developmental shift from Topic Prominence to Subject Prominence. This theoretical background was reviewed to provide rationale for Rutherford’s claims and motivation for the hypotheses tested in the present study. Written compositions of 105 Japanese (J) and 105 Mandarin (M) learners, whose proficiency ranged from TOEFL 450-599, were examined. Analysis of variance was used to determine the effect of the independent variables of first language and proficiency on the dependent variable of syntacticization of Topic. In general Rutherford's model was not supported by statistically significant results, although the data revealed trends in the predicted direction for most measures. The study did, however, provide statistical support for differences between language groups in the production of passives (J > M), Subject-verb agreement (J > M), PRO-drop (M > J), and serial verbs (M > J); proficiency did not have a significant main effect in all of these cases though. The results could be explained, in part by typological differences between Japanese and Mandarin. However, it was noted that the research questions might be addressed more satisfactorily by conducting further studies with learners at lower levels of proficiency, and by examining oral production data, in addition to written data. Rutherford (1983) drafted a two-part model to account for the syntacticization of Topic in the English of Japanese and Mandarin learners. For Japanese, he charted the acquisition of English existential constructions with there out of earlier topicalized locative expressions. He characterized Mandarin learners development in terms of the evolution of Subjects from earlier existentials and Topic-Comment constructions. Implicit in Rutherford’s model are assumptions concerning (1) the role of transfer in second language acquisition; (2) typological distinctions between English, Japanese, and Mandarin based on the roles of Topic and Subject; and (3) the naturalness of the developmental shift from Topic Prominence to Subject Prominence. This theoretical background was reviewed to provide rationale for Rutherford’s claims and motivation for the hypotheses tested in the present study. Written compositions of 105 Japanese (J) and 105 Mandarin (M) learners, whose proficiency ranged from TOEFL 450-599, were examined. Analysis of variance was used to determine the effect of the independent variables of first language and proficiency on the dependent variable of syntacticization of Topic. In general Rutherford's model was not supported by statistically significant results, although the data revealed trends in the predicted direction for most measures. The study did, however, provide statistical support for differences between language groups in the production of passives (J > M), Subject-verb agreement (J > M), PRO-drop (M > J), and serial verbs (M > J); proficiency did not have a significant main effect in all of these cases though. The results could be explained, in part by typological differences between Japanese and Mandarin. However, it was noted that the research questions might be addressed more satisfactorily by conducting further studies with learners at lower levels of proficiency, and by examining oral production data, in addition to written data.
dc.format.extent 202 pages
dc.language eng
dc.subject syntactics
dc.subject japanese learners
dc.subject mandarin learners
dc.subject esl
dc.subject rutherford and model
dc.subject l2 transfer
dc.title Syntacticization of Topic in Japanese and Mandarin Students' English: A Test of Rutherford's Model
dc.type Occasional Paper
dc.type.dcmi Text
dc.contributor.department University of Hawaii at Manoa. Department of English as a Second Language.
dc.format.digitalorigin reformatted digital
dc.subject.fast Frames (Linguistics)
dc.subject.fast Language transfer (Language learning)
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