L2 Acquisition of Reference Time of Epistemic Modality in English by L1 Thai Speaking Children

Abstract

Demirdarche, and Uribe-Etxebarria (2008) argue that the reference time of the modal complement in English results from the interplay between the semantic properties of modals and the aspect of the verbal complement. Unlike English, the reference time of the modal complement in Thai is indicated by temporal adverbials or contexts (Yangklang 2011: 35). Thus, the task for L1 Thai-speakers in acquiring the reference time in English is complicated, as the Thais have to acquire properties, which are not present in their L1. Hence, this potentially constitutes L1 transfer effects e.g. L1 interpretation during the course of L2 acquisition of epistemic modality in English. This paper reports the results of an experimental study, which aimed to test whether L2 children and L2 adults have acquired the syntactic patterns, which indicate the reference time of the epistemic modal complements in English. A truth value judgment task was designed to trace the L2 learners' temporal interpretations of the modal statements. The participants were asked to judge whether a certain modal statement is OK or NOT in felicitous and infelicitous contexts. The results of the study suggest that the initial state of the L2 learner's inter-language is based on L1 knowledge. However, we find no evidence, which enable us to argue for evidence of access to UG in L2 acquisition. Since the meaning results from interaction between modals and aspect, the findings lead to speculation about what meaning elements need to be acquired prior to others



Author Information
Peerapat Yangklang, Silpakorn University, Thailand

Paper Information
Conference: ACLL2013
Stream: Language Learning

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