Portland State University. Department of Applied Linguistics
Term of Graduation
Date of Publication
Master of Arts (M.A.) in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
Second language acquisition, English language -- Study and teaching -- Foreign speakers
1 online resource (2, xii, 338 pages)
A typological implicational universal based on a diverse sample of the world's languages describes a hierarchy for interrogatives. The universal hierarchy states that in any given language, inversion in Yes-No questions (YNQs) implies inversion in information questions (WHQs in English), which, in turns implies the fronting of the information word pronoun to sentence-initial position.
Several researchers have proposed that typological implicational universals such as this one for interrogatives may constrain not only the primary languages on which they are based, but also the interlanguages of second language learners.
This study, a partial replication of one by Eckman, Moravcsik, and Wirth (1989), examined second language acquisition data to determine whether constraints of the interrogative universal were evident in the interlanguages of learners of English as a second language. It was hypothesized that learners' control of WH-word fronting would exceed their control of WHQ inversion, which, in turn, would exceed their control of YNQ inversion.
Data were elicited in oral interviews with 32 Japanese-speaking learners of English. The task of the subjects during the interviews was to ask questions in order to discover the story partially told by a grid of puzzle-like drawings. The interviews were tape-recorded, the recordings transcribed, and the transcribed interrogative forms analyzed. Two methods of data analysis showed strong support for the hypothesis. A third method of analysis revealed that seven subjects produced patterns of interrogatives not predicted by the universal; six of the exceptions could be resolved using an argument also used by Eckman et al. (1989) in explaining their exceptions.
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Bess, Dee Anne, "The Constraints of a Typological Implicational Universal for Interrogatives on Second Language Acquisition" (1996). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 5086.