English Version





Unlearning of Topic-prominence by Chinese Learners of English

主 讲 人 :常辉    教授


地      点 :Tencent会议 262835892


Chinese allows both gapped and gapless topic constructions without their usage being restricted to specific contexts, while English only allows gapped topic constructions which are used in certain contexts. In other words, Chinese uses ‘topic prominence’, whereas English does not. The contrast between English and Chinese topic constructions poses a learnability problem for Chinese learners of English. This paper uses an empirical study investigating first language (L1) transfer in the case of Chinese learners of English and the extent to which they are able to unlearn topic prominence as they progress in second language (L2) English. Results of an acceptability judgment test indicate that Chinese learners of English initially transfer Chinese topic prominence into their English, then gradually unlearn Chinese topic prominence as their English proficiency improves, and finally unlearn Chinese topic prominence successfully. The results support the Full Transfer Theory (Schwartz & Sprouse, 1994, 1996) and the Variational Learning Model (Yang, 2002, 2004), but contradict Zheng’s (2001) proposal that the topic prominence can never be transferred but may be unlearned from the beginning in Chinese speakers’ acquisition of English. In addition, the type of topic constructions that is used and whether or not a comma is added after the topic have an effect on learners’ transfer and unlearning of topic prominence. It is proposed that the specification of Agr(eement) and T(ense) as well as the presence of expletive subjects in English input can trigger the unlearning of topic prominence for Chinese learners of English.


常辉,上海交通大学外国语学院教授、博士研究生导师、常务副院长。中国高校外语学科发展联盟理工类院校委员会主任委员、中国英汉语比较研究会外语学科发展研究专业委员会秘书长、二语习得研究专业委员会常务理事、英语教学研究分会常务理事、教育语言学专业委员会会常务理事、Journal of Second Language Studies联合实行主编、《教育语言学研究》和International Journal of Chinese Language Teaching编委。


发布时间:2021-03-25 10:40:59

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