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The Processing Of Referential Expressions In Discourse By Chinese, English, And Japanese Native Speakers And By Chinese And Japanese Learners Of English

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Title:The Processing Of Referential Expressions In Discourse By Chinese, English, And Japanese Native Speakers And By Chinese And Japanese Learners Of English
Authors:Miyao, Mari
Contributors:Second Language Studies (department)
discourse processing
referential expressions
show 1 moresecond language acquisition
show less
Date Issued:Aug 2017
Publisher:University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Abstract:Referential expressions (REs), such as proper names and pronouns, pose challenges to
second language learners (L2ers). Generally, adult native speakers prefer a more explicit RE
form (e.g., a proper name) when referring to a less salient/accessible entity in the discourse and a
reduced RE form (e.g., a pronoun) for a salient/accessible entity (e.g., Ariel, 1990). To use REs
successfully, L2ers need to calculate the accessibility of discourse entities and associate them
with particular RE forms. The present study asks how adult L2ers whose first language (L1) is
Chinese or Japanese (null-subject languages) comprehend and produce REs in discourses in
English (a non-null-subject language).
Experiment 1 looks at the comprehension of REs in subject position (subject-REs), using
closely-translated versions of a sentence-by-sentence self-paced reading task adapted from
Gordon, Grosz, and Gilliom (1993), by native speakers of English, Chinese, and Japanese.
Experiment 2 examines the same participants’ production of subject-REs via a three-panel
picture-narration task adapted from Arnold and Griffin (2007). Experiments 3 and 4 employ the
English version of the two tasks to explore the comprehension and production of subject-REs by
intermediate-to-advanced L1-Chinese and L1-Japanese L2ers of English.
In the reading task, native English and native Japanese speakers preferred the most
reduced subject-REs in their native language––respectively, overt-pronoun subjects and
null-pronoun subjects––for accessible entities; native Japanese speakers strongly dispreferred
overt-pronoun subjects. Different reading-time (i.e., raw vs. residual) analyses indicated different
subject-RE preferences for native Chinese speakers, but they never dispreferred overt-pronoun
subjects. In the production task, all three language groups preferred pronominal subject-REs for
accessible entities, but when accessibility was reduced by the presence of another entity in the
discourse, by gender congruence, or by a shifted discourse focus, they produced (more explicit)
repeated-name subject-REs more frequently.
Neither L2 group showed subject-RE preferences in reading, but in production, where
pictures helped build firm discourse representations, they clearly preferred pronominal subjects
for accessible entities and repeated-name subjects for less accessible entities. Overall, the present
study suggests that when sufficient contextual support is provided, L2ers can calculate discourse
accessibility and choose subject-RE forms according to the accessibility level (contra Sorace,
Description:Ph.D. Thesis. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa 2017.
Rights:All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - Second Language Studies

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