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Title: The acquisition of morphosyntactic properties of English compounding and transitivity alternations by L1 speakers of Libyan Arabic
Author: Essa, Hatem
ISNI:       0000 0004 5372 6358
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2015
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Three central topics that have been at the heart of research into second language (L2) acquisition over the past 30 years are the extent to which properties of a speaker’s first language (L1) transfer into their L2 mental grammars, the extent to which L2 learners’ mental grammars are constrained by an innate language faculty (Universal Grammar (UG)), and the nature of the development of grammatical knowledge. Much of the evidence bearing on these topics has come from the investigation of the acquisition of syntactic properties. There have been comparatively fewer studies of these topics in other domains of the grammar. This thesis investigates the role of L1 transfer and UG in the acquisition of two pre-syntactic properties in English by L1 speakers of Libyan Arabic: noun compounding (a lexical operation) and argument structure realization (a property at the semantics-syntax interface). The participants were selected at different stages of learning English in the classroom to provide a measure of possible development. Using elicited production and a grammaticality judgement task, results suggest some possible evidence of L1 influence on plural marking in noun compounds and knowledge of the morphological marking of constructions realizing argument structure. But in the latter case L1 influence appears to lead to a general problem with the realization of intransitive verbs, rather than direct transfer of L1 properties into the L2. There is also some evidence of the influence of UG on the representation of unaccusative versus unergative verbs, but no evidence of UG influence in other areas investigated (constraints on number marking in noun compounds and on the the linking of thematic arguments to syntactic positions). Little development was observed across the two groups investigated. Broadly, the results are consistent with iii an L1 transfer/access to UG view of the L2 acquisition of pre-syntactic properties, without providing strong support for this position.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: P Philology. Linguistics