Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Information structure and dative word-order alternations in English and Korean: L1 children, L2 children, and L2 adults
by Park, Kyae-Sung, Ph.D., University of Hawai'i at Manoa, 2014, 350; 3648515
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation investigates whether first language (L1) and second language (L2) learners adhere to the Given-before-New Principle, such that they tend to prefer a discourse-given entity prior to a discourse-new entity, focusing on dative word-order alternations in English (Prepositional Dative (PD) vs. Double Object Dative (DOD)) and in Korean (canonical [IO–DO] order vs. scrambled [DO–IO] order). This project explores, first, the (causal) relationship between knowledge of Theory of Mind (ToM)—the ability to attribute mental states to self and to others—and adherence to the Given-before-New Principle in L1 children and, second, the transferability of this principle in L2ers. Two novel oral contextualized preference tasks—NP Task and Pronoun Task—in English and in Korean were developed to test adherence to the principle.

L1 data from the children (L1-English; L1-Korean; L2ers of English in their L1-Korean) yield mixed results regarding the relation between knowledge of ToM and compliance with the Given-before-New Principle. Ultimately, the very small number of [–ToM] children disallows any firm conclusions to be drawn.

Unlike the adult natives who overwhelmingly comply with the Given-before-New Principle, L2 data from the adults (L1-Korean L2ers of English; L1-English L2ers of Korean) and from the children suggest that intermediate-to-advanced L2ers show a strong syntactic bias toward the default—the PD in English and the canonical [IO–DO] order in Korean, when the given-referent is a definite lexical NP. An aural acceptability judgment task verified that this bias in English L2ers is not due to incomplete lexico-syntactic knowledge of the dative alternation. The overall generalization, across all L2 groups, is that with a definite lexical NP as a given-referent, when the less basic construction aligning with [Given–New] competes with the more basic construction aligning with [New–Given], L2ers tend to choose the latter, i.e., the default. In contrast, when the given-referent is a pronoun, adult L2ers of English are more likely to prefer [Given–New] over [New–Given], in line with the Given-before-New Principle. We conclude that L2ers who have knowledge of the Given-before-New Principle in their L1 are unable to transfer it to their L2.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Schwartz, Bonnie D.
Commitee: Bley-Vroman, Robert, Deen, Kamil Ud, Fukuda, Shinichiro, O'Grady, William
School: University of Hawai'i at Manoa
Department: Second Language Studies
School Location: United States -- Hawaii
Source: DAI-A 76/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Linguistics, Modern language
Keywords: Canonical, Dative alternation, English, Given-before-New Principle, Givenness, Information structure, Korean, Scrambling
Publication Number: 3648515
ISBN: 978-1-321-46266-1
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