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Title: Effects of positive evidence, indirect negative evidence and form-function transparency on second language acquisition : evidence from L2 Chinese and L2 Thai
Author: Prawatmuang, Woramon
ISNI:       0000 0004 7226 0274
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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This study investigates second language (L2) acquisition of word orders and markers of collectivity in Chinese and Thai. One of the differences between Chinese and Thai is that Chinese nominal phrases appear with a “numeral + classifier + noun” word order while Thai phrases appear as “noun + numeral + classifier”. Another difference is that men, the Chinese collective marker, cannot be used with nouns referring to animals or indefinite nouns, while phûak, the Thai collective marker, can do so. Based on the cross-linguistic differences, an empirical study was conducted to answer whether Thai learners of Chinese and Chinese learners of Thai would be able to acquire target language (TL) structures that are different from those in their native language (L1) and whether they could reject incorrect TL structures. One hundred and forty-four participants were recruited to complete an acceptability judgment task and a self-paced reading task. It is found that both Chinese and Thai learners could perform native-like in their acceptance of TL word orders since early stages of acquisition. However, it took them until an advanced level to be able to completely reject incorrect TL word orders that resembled structures in their L1. Thai learners also faced difficulty rejecting the use of men with animal and indefinite nouns in their L2 Chinese. In contrast, Chinese learners tended to be successful in their acquisition of phûak. The results are interpreted in terms of roles of positive evidence and form-function transparency. In general, L2 learners tend to acquire a TL structure earlier when they can receive positive evidence in TL input and when a form-function connection of the structure is transparent. Nonetheless, these factors do not have an absolute effect on acquisition outcome since some learners may be able to use a probabilistic learning strategy to successfully acquire L2 knowledge even when positive evidence is unavailable.
Supervisor: Yuan, Boping Sponsor: Cambridge Thai Foundation ; Cambridge Overseas Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: second language acquisition ; Chinese ; Thai ; word order ; form-function ; feature re-assembly ; positive evidence ; indirect negative evidence ; probabilistic learning ; SLA ; L2 ; collective marker ; self-paced reading ; acceptability judgment ; reading time ; input ; form-function connection