Processability Analysis of the Acquisition of English L2 Syntax by Japanese and Chinese Speakers

Yumiko Yamaguchi, Satomi Kawaguchi


Processability Theory (PT; Pienemann, 1998) argues that there is a universal hierarchy in the acquisition of second language (L2) grammar. As for L2 syntax, PT proposes the Lexical Mapping Hypothesis (LMH; Pienemann, et al. 2005) in which learners are predicted to progress from ‘default mapping’, where the argument hierarchy maps onto the grammatical function hierarchy in a default way, to ‘non-default mapping’, where the strictly hierarchical mapping is disrupted under semantic and/or pragmatic pressure (Pienemann, et al., 2015). More recently, an additional intermediate stage between default and non-default mapping stages has been proposed by Bettoni and Di Biase (2015) accounting for locative, ditransitive, and other constructions containing ‘default mapping plus additional argument.’ Although this intermediate stage has been tested to some extent (e.g., Di Biase, et al., 2015; Kawaguchi, 2015; Liu, et al., 2023; Yamaguchi & Kawaguchi, 2022), more detailed analyses of how L2 learners proceed from the default mapping stage to the non-default mapping stage are needed. The participants in the present study are 139 English L2 learners, that is 88 learners of English as a foreign language (EFL) in Japan and 21 Japanese and 30 Chinese speakers in English as a second language (ESL) environments in Australia. Their speech production in English is examined based on the updated LMH (Bettoni & Di Biase, 2015). Results show that, in terms of additional arguments in the intermediate stage, the oblique (OBL) construction emerges before the double object (OBJ) construction. This finding contributes to the further development of PT hypotheses for L2 syntactic development.

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Copyright (c) 2023 Yumiko Yamaguchi, Satomi Kawaguchi

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