The Second Language Acquisition of Past Tense Marker in English by L1 Speakers of Chinese/LE PASSÉ DANS L'ACQUISITION DE L'ANGLAIS EN TANT QU'UNE DEUXIÈME LANGUE PAR LES LOCUTEUR DU CHINOIS

Article excerpt

Abstract:

This study is considered the L2 acquisition and underlying of past tense marker, focusing on whether or not L2 learners of English are successful in associating the grammatical properties with Chinese language. Although the dataset is small, the results showed that Chinese speakers are able to acquire the past-tense marker although Chinese language has none of this feature. The L1 Chinese speakers are able to acquire the regular past-tense marker better compared to the irregular form.

Keywords: Second language acquisition; Past tense marker; L1 Chinese speakers; Irregular form

Résumé: Cet article étudie l'acquisition d'une deuxième langue, et en particulier l'apprentissage du passé, en se concentrant sur le fait si les apprenants de l'anglais pouvaient réussir à associer les propriétés grammaticales de la langue anglaise avec la langue chinoise. Bien que l'ensemble des données est faible, les résultats montrent que les locuteurs du chinois sont capable de maîtriser le passé, même si la langue chinoise n'a pas cette fonctionnalité. Les locuteurs du chinois maîtrise mieux le passé en forme régulière par rapport en forme irrégulière.

Mots-Clés: acquisition d'une deuxième langue; temps passer; les locuteurs du chinois; forme irrégulière

1. INTRODUCTION

There are various theories put forward in explaining the development of second language acquisition. These theories can be mainly divided into two groups those that posit no Ll influence on L2 acquisition such as the Skill Acquisition Theory, Universal Grammar and those who say Ll has influence on the acquisition of L2 such as the Autonomous Induction Theory.

It is widely assumed that when L2 learners produce forms those native speakers of the target language would produce will not be the same. This is and must be the influence of the learner's first language. However, research on second language acquisition has moved from this basic assumption as well as of the assumption that similarities and references between a speaker's native language (Ll) and the target second language (L2) alone is sufficient in acquiring the L2. In the past 30 years or so there are many empirical observations about L2 learners performance that shows evidence where transfer of properties from Ll to L2 cannot be explained. The language acquisition is the result of unconscious internal mental processes rather than conscious learning. An example, it has been reported by Stauble (1 984) that all L2 learners of English, whatever their Ll , have difficulty with the 3rd person present tense agreement marker -s.

Languages are basically made of sounds, phonemes that form words, words are put together to form sentences and these words and sentences convey the message and aids in communication. However, each language has its won phoneme, syntactic and morphological rules that govern that particular language. Similarity between one language and another language is based on where they sit in the conventional family-tree-diagram of language-relatedness. There are some languages that are from two different continents that cannot be linked in a tree such as the Asian languages, Indo-European languages and the Proto-Gmc group of languages (Lyons, 1981).

One of the Asian languages is the Chinese language. It has many interesting features such as it being a pro-drop language which does not have wh-movement. It is a tonal language and uses different contoured pitches to differentiate between words that have the same phonemes. The modern dialects like Mandarin have 4 tones while older dialects have more. One of the oldest dialects, the Cantonese, has 9 tones and these tones are still retained and in use until today. For example, the phoneme "si" in Cantonese could mean the following, depending on tone, namely poetry/corpse, cause/waste/history, taste/try, time, market/city, soldier/to be, know/color, tongue and eat/eclipse (Yee, n.d.).

Tones in Chinese are set at relative pitches to each other, thus one implication of tones is that a speaker or listener cannot be tone-deaf. …