Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Dominant language influence in acquisition and attrition of the Chinese reflexive ziji by Chinese-English bilinguals
by Yu, Chien-Hui, M.A., University of Southern California, 2011, 51; 1497035
Abstract (Summary)

This study investigates how English, as the dominant language of Chinese heritage speakers, influences their minor language, Chinese, in the binding domain of the Chinese reflexive ziji. There are five different experimental groups: heritage learners, early bilinguals, late bilinguals, Chinese L2 learners and Chinese monolinguals. The Truth Value Judgment Task with stories (Crain and Thornton, 1998) is used to examine the structural differences in the binding domain between Chinese and English in this experiment.

According to my research and analyses, several experimental possibilities can be imagined regarding how the dominant language, English, influences in acquisition and attrition of the Chinese reflexive ziji. First, participants cannot access language-specific properties. Early bilinguals, heritage learners and Chinese L2 learners perform lower accuracy when the Chinese reflexive ziji stands outside the binding domain of English. This result corresponds to the conclusion made by Kim, Montrul, and Yoon (2005) in the experiment of binding interpretations between Korean heritage speakers and adult L2 learners of Korean.

Second, it is likely that L1 attrition does not exist among the experimental participants. Only Chinese L2 learners have a lower score in the test because they learn Chinese as a second language after the critical period.* Third, L1 attrition seems to exist in this experiment. Heritage learners, early bilinguals and late bilinguals show low accuracy in the test. The possible factor is the operation of L1 attrition

Based on the possibilities of this experiment, several issues need to be widely addressed in future researches. First, how does the dominant language influence learners to acquire the language-specific properties such as sub-commanding? Second, what role does the minority language play in the process of language-specific property acquisition?

*Kim, Montrul, and Yoon (2009: 1) proposed that Korean immigrants (attriters) did not differ from Korean controls, while simultaneous bilinguals (incomplete learners) and late L2 learners of Korean showed behavior different from Korean control when two languages were different in their binding properties. However, in the proposal second, I hypothesized that early bilinguals and late bilinguals will not show L1 attrition in the test, either. This is the difference between two experiments.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Li, Audrey
Commitee: Hoji, Hajime, Simpson, Andrew
School: University of Southern California
Department: East Asian Languages and Cultures
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 50/01M, Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics, Asian Studies, Asian American Studies
Keywords: Chinese reflexive ziji, Dominant language, L1 attrition, Second language acquisition
Publication Number: 1497035
ISBN: 9781124789392
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