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Title: Second language acquisition of pronominal binding by learners of Korean and English
Author: Song, Hee-Jeong
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis presents a new study on the L2 acquisition of pronominal binding in Korean and English in order to examine accessibility to Universal Grammar (UG) (Chomsky 1981, 1986, 2000, 2001) in adult L2 acquisition. Specifically, the study examines the L2 acquisition of grammatical knowledge of the Overt Pronoun Constraint (OPC) (Montalbetti 1984) by English learners of Korean and the L2 acquisition of anaphoric binding by Korean learners of English. The first study investigates L2 speakers’ knowledge of the OPC, typically regarded as a universal constraint and a poverty-of-the-stimulus phenomenon. Previous L2 acquisition studies have only explored OPC effects when the pronoun is in subject position but not in object position. The current study aims to address this gap by investigating whether English learners of Korean can obtain nativelike knowledge of the OPC in subject and object positions. 41 English learners of Korean (intermediate and advanced) completed a co-reference comprehension task and a story-based translation task. Results from the experiment show that L2 speakers can successfully achieve nativelike knowledge of the OPC regardless of pronoun position and the study confirms the prediction that universal constraints need not be learnt. The second study focuses on L2 speakers’ knowledge of feature-based languagespecific constraints of anaphoric binding, following Hicks (2009), to examine the L2 acquisition of locality and orientation. 70 Korean learners of English (low-intermediate, intermediate, and advanced) completed a picture verification task and the results show that neither locality nor orientation constraints are properly acquired by most learners. This finding reveals that L2 speakers have difficulty in acquiring new feature configurations of the target grammar. This study also provides new evidence to support the view that cross-linguistic differences in this domain are derived from the interaction between language-specific feature specifications and universal reflexivisation mechanisms. In accordance with the results from the two studies, this thesis argues that while UG plays a significant role in explaining L2 speakers’ convergence to the L2 grammar, consistent with Full Access to UG (Schwartz & Sprouse 1994, 1996), divergence in L2 acquisition is caused by a failure to reconfigure new feature specifications. This is a result which supports the relevant role that Feature Assembly plays in second language acquisition (Lardiere 2008, 2009).
Supervisor: Dominguez, Laura ; Hicks, Glyn ; Mitchell, Rosamond Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: P Philology. Linguistics