Article published in:EUROSLA Yearbook: Volume 10 (2010)
Edited by Leah Roberts, Martin Howard, Muiris Ó Laoire and David Singleton
[EUROSLA Yearbook 10] 2010
► pp. 142–168
The influence of Chinese Focused Cleft wh-constructions on Chinese speakers’ L2 knowledge of English wh-movement
Evidence from two experimental studies
Previous studies of Mandarin speakers’ intuitions about grammatical and ungrammatical wh-movement constructions in L2 English have produced mixed results. Some studies show that such speakers neither fully accept grammatical wh-constructions, nor fully reject constructions that violate locality constraints. The present study examines the possibility that learners may be transferring the Chinese Focused Cleft wh-construction (FCW) into their English grammars, and that transfer is persistently influential. It is argued that the FCW, which produces structures superficially similar to English wh-movement questions, does not involve movement. Two experimental studies are reported. The first tests native Mandarin Chinese speakers’ intuitions about the FCW in order to provide evidence bearing on lack of movement in the FCW. The second tests the intuitions about grammatical and ungrammatical English wh-movement of advanced L2 learners of English whose L1 was Mandarin. The results support the claim that advanced Chinese learners of English interpret English wh-constructions like Chinese FCWs.
Published online: 18 August 2010