First Language Transfer and Second Language Proficiency: A Study of Null Subjects and Null Objects in Chinese learners’ L2 English
Language transfer has been one of the most discussed topics in SLA for quite some time. It is known that Chinese is divergent from English in many ways. One of the cross-linguistic variation is that Chinese allows null subjects and null objects in formal context while English does not. We assume that when Chinese learners acquire English as their second language, they would meet difficulties in unlearning null subjects and null objects. An empirical study is conducted on 53 Chinese learners at different English proficiency levels and 3 native English speakers to investigate whether first language transfer takes place in second language acquisition, and does second language proficiency helps or hinders the unlearning process. The results of the experiment proves that first, L1 transfer could interfere with L2 acquisition; second,there is an asymmetry of unlearning null subjects and null objects while the unlearning of null expletives meet the least problems; and an asymmetry of unlearning null arguments has also been found between embedded and matrix sentences. Third, the influence of L1 decreases with improvement in L2 proficiency level.
PublisherUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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