L2 Acquisition of the Word Order of a Mandarin Attributive-Head Construction May Not Be Affected by L1 or Word Frequency


Word order can be a difficult dimension for L2 learners to acquire, especially for learners whose L1 exhibits a different order pattern. For example, previous research reported difficulty in the acquisition of Mandarin [Attributive-Head] constructions for Thai learners with [Head-Attributive] constructions, and has attributed the difficulty to negative L1-to-L2 transfer. However, whether this difficulty is truly L1-specific remains unknown, since research often focused on a single demographic. Adopting a corpus-based comparative approach, this study investigates whether there is a differential difficulty experienced by L1-Thai and L1-English learners whose pattern violates and follows the Mandarin [Acquisition-Head] order respectively, and also whether difficulty may be further modulated by word frequency of the Mandarin attributive. Mandarin attributives were selected and grouped into pre-established frequency bands A and B in descending order of word frequency, with 70 attributives in each band. Learner data was extracted from the Global Chinese Interlanguage Texts Corpus containing sentences with the attributives written by L1-Thai and L1-English learners. Sentences were coded as correct and incorrect based only on erroneous word order by two independent L1-Mandarin raters. A total of 2042 sentences were analyzed. Results showed no effect of L1 or frequency, nor any further interaction. This finding may provide evidence for universality in the difficulty of Mandarin [Attributive-Head] word order, instead of L1-specific negative transfer.

Author Information
Kun Yu, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong SAR

Paper Information
Conference: IICE2024
Stream: Foreign Languages Education & Applied Linguistics (including ESL/TESL/TEFL)

This paper is part of the IICE2024 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Yu K. (2024) L2 Acquisition of the Word Order of a Mandarin Attributive-Head Construction May Not Be Affected by L1 or Word Frequency ISSN: 2189-1036 – The IAFOR International Conference on Education – Hawaii 2024 Official Conference Proceedings https://doi.org/10.22492/issn.2189-1036.2024.59
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.22492/issn.2189-1036.2024.59

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon