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Title: Continued accessibility to UG in non-native grammars : the acquisition of wh-movement by Malay learners of English
Author: Netto, Gina
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1995
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Within the generative framework, it is widely accepted that first language acquisition is constrained by Universal Grammar (UG). In non-native language acquisition, the continued accessibility of UG is a controversial issue. The main purpose of this study is to contribute evidence that UG continues to be accessible to Malay learners of English in the acquisition of wh-movement. Since wh-movement has been argued to be absent at S-structure in Indonesian (Martohardjono, 1993; Martohardjono and Gair, 1992), which is syntactically identical to Malay with respect to wh-movement, we can rule out the possibility of direct L1 transfer to L2 acquisition of wh-movement. Our main hypothesis is that learners progress from an early non-movement stage to the acquisition of wh-movement through the continued accessibility of movement-related principles, Subjacency and the ECP. We conducted a cross-sectional investigation of Malay learners from four levels of proficiency and a control group of native speakers. The elicitation instruments were an acceptability rating task, an acceptability ranking task and a production task. These tests were designed to test learners' ability (a) to reject UG violations; (b) to reject violations according to the strength with which Subjacency is violated; (c) to reject UG violations according to whether one or two principles are violated; (d) to prefer grammatical extraction over ungrammatical extraction; (e) to overcome L1 influences in the acceptance of local and long-distance wh-movement; (f) to avoid the production of UG violations and to produce grammatical local and long-distance wh-movement. We found that with continued exposure to the L2, Malay learners increasingly reject Subjacency and ECP violations. Mid- and high-level learners also demonstrate an acquisitional order which is in accordance with UG theoretic predictions: they reject strong Subjacency violations more decisively than weak Subjacency violations.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available