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A contrast between VP-Ellipsis and Gapping in English: L1 Acquisition, L2 Acquisition, and L2 Processing

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Title:A contrast between VP-Ellipsis and Gapping in English: L1 Acquisition, L2 Acquisition, and L2 Processing
Authors:Hwang, Haerim
Contributors:Schwartz, Bonnie D. (advisor)
Second Language Studies (department)
adult second language processing
early and late second language acquisition
first language acquisition
show 2 morelearnability
show less
Date Issued:2020
Publisher:University of Hawai'i at Manoa
Abstract:This dissertation probes the L1 acquisition, L2 acquisition, and L2 processing of contrasts between two seemingly similar phenomena in English. The first, VP-Ellipsis (VPE), involves the deletion of an entire verb phrase (e.g., Sara made pizza and Kelly did [e] too); the second, Gapping, involves a verb gap (e.g., Sara made pizza and Kelly [e] pasta). One such contrast is that whereas VPE is grammatical both in conjunct clauses and in adjunct clauses (e.g., Sara made pizza {and Kelly did too/because Kelly did}), Gapping is grammatical only in conjunct clauses (e.g., Sara made pizza {and Kelly pasta/*because Kelly pasta}). Another contrast is that whereas Gapping (e.g., Mom hugged the boy at home and Dad in the park) allows the noun phrase following the conjunction to be interpreted as either the subject (e.g., ‘hugger’) or object (e.g., ‘huggee’) of the gapped verb, VPE (e.g., Mom hugged the boy at home and Dad did too) permits only a subject reading. Importantly, these grammaticality and interpretation contrasts constitute learnability challenges for L1-English children and L1-Korean L2ers of English alike: For neither group can input alone lead to implicit knowledge of the impossibility of both Gapping in adjunct clauses and the object reading for VPE; for L1-Korean L2ers, moreover, implicit knowledge that VPE in adjunct clauses is possible and that the object reading for VPE is impossible cannot come from their L1 grammar or from their classroom instruction, either.
Study 1 is a corpus-based study examining how (in)frequent VPE and Gapping are in the input to L1-English children and the input to L1-Korean L2ers of English. The input corpora to each of these groups revealed hardly any instances of VPE in adjunct clauses or of Gapping at all, which suggests that input alone cannot derive the two contrasts at issue. Two acquisition studies tested L1-English children (n = 24–33) and (early, n = 27; late, n = 30) L1-Korean L2ers of English for knowledge of these contrasts between VPE and Gapping: the grammaticality contrast via an acceptability judgment task (Study 2) and the interpretation contrast via a picture-sentence matching task (Study 3). The results showed that (a) the L1 children know the grammaticality contrast as early as age 5;11 and the interpretation contrast as early as age 5;6, and (b) the higher-proficiency early L2ers and most of the late L2ers had also acquired both contrasts. Processing of Gapping vs. VPE by adult L1-Korean L2ers (n = 48) was investigated in Study 4 via a self-paced reading task making use of the fact that (im)plausibility is manipulable in Gapping, but not in VPE, by changing the verb (e.g., Bill {ordered/*drank} coffee and Jane sandwiches vs. Bill {ordered/drank} coffee and Jane did too). Like the native speaker controls (n = 53), the adult L2ers exhibited implausibility effects only for Gapping, thereby indicating that they can retrieve verb information at the gap site in real-time processing.
In short, the acquisition studies provide evidence that L1 children and L1-Korean L2ers can overcome the learnability problems involved in the grammaticality and interpretation contrasts between VPE and Gapping in English, and the self-paced reading study demonstrates that adult L1-Korean L2ers can process English Gapping sentences in a target-like manner.
Pages/Duration:276 pages
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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