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Title: L1 effects on L2 comprehension, production and acceptability judgements : evidence from English and Albanian learners of Greek
Author: Mangana, A.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2006
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Abstract:
The aim of this thesis is to investigate the role of the native language (L1) in the development of a second/foreign language (L2). More specifically, the issues addressed in the thesis concern the influence of L1 structure on L2 grammar, the language levels that the L1 could affect, the use of L1 strategies during L2 processing, and the prerequisites that would allow for L1 effects to take place. Based on the recognition that competence is only indirectly mirrored in performance, we assume that the L1 effect might be manifested in different ways depending on the task that L2 speakers are performing, and we set off to provide a broad picture of L2 performance by presenting comprehension, production and acceptability judgements data from L2 speakers with different L1s and at different developmental stages. The grammatical phenomenon under investigation is word order and the languages in contact are Greek, which is the target language, English and Albanian, which are the L1s. Greek and Albanian are free-word order languages with rich inflection, as opposed to English, which has a strict word order and weak agreement features. L2 speakers were either at the elementary or at the advanced level. The same native and non-native speakers of Greek (total number = 90) participated in three experiments that were run in different order among participants. The first experiment reported in the thesis is an on-line sentence interpretation task, which involved ambiguous and unambiguous utterances. Utterances are ambiguous in Greek when the NPs that could function as Subjects and Objects are not clearly marked for case (due to syncretism between Nominative and Accusative forms of neuter nouns and articles). The second experiment investigates word order use during speech production, and the third experiment investigates the relevant acceptability of the six word orders that are possible in Greek. Data from the three experiments confirm the hypothesis that the L1 effect is manifested differently during different tasks. The fact that none of the L2 groups differ from the native controls in terms of acceptability judgements allows us to assume that L2 speakers might have similar representations to native speakers of Greek. However, during production L2 speakers might avoid word order patterns that they accept, and during comprehension they might resort to L1 strategies, which were not found to influence sentence acceptability. The first conclusion we draw after the comparison of the results from these three experiments is that L1 influence is not always apparent during performance, either at the representational or at the processing level. The perceived similarity between L1 and the L2 might influence transfer of L1 knowledge and strategies. The task that L2 speakers perform and the level of L2 proficiency are two additional factors that might determine the strength of the L1 effect. At least with respect to the phenomenon under investigation, it also seems plausible that the differences between native and non-native groups could be due to difficulties with L2 morphological realisations of abstract features and incomplete L2 lexical knowledge rather than to different syntactic representations.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.657262  DOI: Not available
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