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Second Language Acquisition of Motion Constructions: A Bidirectional Study of Learners of Arabic and English

ALBAQAMI, RASHIDAH (2016) Second Language Acquisition of Motion Constructions: A Bidirectional Study of Learners of Arabic and English. PhD thesis, University of York.

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In line with Talmy’s typology of lexicalisation patterns (1985, 2000), languages differ in the way they express the semantic constituents of motion events into surface elements. English and Arabic motion constructions differ in whether [path] of motion is expressed on a verb, or by a separate particle. Acquisition of the expression of [path] is expected to cause difficulty for second language learners. In recent years, there has been an increased emphasis in minimalist approaches to L2 acquisition on the importance of the lexicon in accounts of syntactic variation across languages as explained by the feature-based contrastive analysis. This study extends the view of feature reassembly articulated by Lardiere (2000, 2005, 2008, 2009) into the realm of motion events in Arabic and English context following this line of research carried out by Stringer (2012) in the area of spatial morphology. Within the Feature Reassembly approach, Lardiere (2008, 2009) argues that reassembling features that are represented in one way in the first language and mapping them into different lexical items in the L2 will present a greater difficulty. Data collected from a total of 120 participants (60 Arabic learners of English, 20 English learners of Arabic and two control groups of 20 native speakers of Arabic and English), who successfully completed acceptability judgment and animation description tasks, corroborate this postulation. The results strongly suggest that meanings that are encoded differently in the L2 from the L1 are the most challenging, whilst those which are comparable to their L1 representations present less difficulty. On the basis of the learners’ developmental patterns observed in this particular study, I argue that feature reassembly appears to be a significant factor in second language development. This study also supports Stringer’s (2012) conclusions that L2 development in this realm is not connected to simple parameter resetting, but to mastery of lexicons.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Second Language Acquisition, Features, Lexical Semantics, Motion Events, Feature Reassembly, Path, Verb-Particle Construction.
Academic Units: The University of York > Language and Linguistic Science (York)
Date Deposited: 21 Oct 2016 10:20
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2016 10:20
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/14351

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