The roles of L1 and markedness on Mandarin L2ers' construction of syntactic representation

Abstract

Second language learners’ construction of their syntactic representation is greatly influenced by their L1 characteristics and the input of their L2. Although it is known that the more universal a pattern is, the easier it will transfer to facilitate the formation of the representation, the role of markedness on such representation remains unclear. The current study tested two groups of Mandarin L2 learners, i.e., native speakers of English and Japanese with three levels of proficiency using the four structures in Mandarin: SVO, ba OV, S ba O V, and topicalization with novel verbs and neutral animacy cues in a forced choice paradigm to investigate what role of markedness plays in such representations. The results indicated that in addition to the initial transfer for the syntactic representation that is affected by learners’ L1 cue validity, the degree of markedness exerts impact on learners’ rate of acquisition of syntax at different levels.


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