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L2 acquisition of epistemic modality in English by L1 Thai-speaking children and adults

Yangklang, Peerapat (2012) L2 acquisition of epistemic modality in English by L1 Thai-speaking children and adults. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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The current study investigates the L2 acquisition of epistemic modals e.g. MUST, WILL, and MAY/MIGHT by Thai-speaking children and adults. The most crucial differences between Thai and English regarding epistemic modality are the syntactic mechanisms which indicate the reference time of the modal complements. The reference time of the modal complements in English is indicated by certain syntactic patterns, while the reference time of the modal complements in Thai is indicated by temporal adverbials or the context. These differences were therefore assumed to be the most difficult aspects of the epistemic modals in English which the Thai L2 learners of English have to acquire. The fundamental research questions were addressed on the grounds of the Full Transfer, Full Access Hypothesis (Schwartz and Sprouse 1996) which acknowledges the role of Ll properties and the involvement of UG-constrained SLA. Child L2 acquisition was compared with both adult L2 acquisition, and child Ll acquisition. The motivation of the comparison comes from Schwartz (1992, 2003a, b) who argues that comparison of child L2 acquisition with adult L2 acquisition, and with child Ll acquisition potentially provides evidence in support or against theories of Ll and L2 acquisition. A truth value judgment task was conducted, whereby the subjects were asked to decide whether the statements given were temporally felicitous to the test stories. The results show that, in terms of Ll transfer, the Ll properties were observed in both child L2 acquisition and adult L2 acquisition. The L2 children and the L2 adults allowed the interpretations which are not possible for the modal statements in English, but whose counterparts are possible in Thai. In terms of the acquisition of the syntactic patterns which constrain reference time, the L2 children have not acquired the syntactic patterns which constrain the reference time of the modal complements. These results suggest no clear evidence to support that the L2 children have overcome the poverty of the stimulus. Some of the L2 adults, on the other hand, appear to have acquired some syntactic patterns. This finding leads to speculation about the role of cognitive development in the acquisition of epistemic modality.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Languages Cultures and Societies (Leeds)
Other academic unit: School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.582103
Depositing User: Ethos Import
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2016 11:47
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2016 11:47
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/12748

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