CLLEAR seminar 12 May: Dr Boping Yuan

Please join us for the next Centre for Linguistics, Language Education and Acquisition Research (CLLEAR) research seminar.

Tuesday 12th May 2015


Building 46 Lecture Theatre B/room 2003 (Highfield Campus)


Speaker: Dr. Boping Yuan (Cambridge University)

Topic: The effect of computational complexity on L1 transfer: evidence from L2 Chinese attitude-bearing wh-questions

Abstract: This talk reports on an empirical study of attitude-bearing wh-questions in English speakers’ second language (L2) Chinese. Although English and Chinese wh-questions are different in that the wh-word in the former moves to the sentence initial position while that in the latter stays in situ, the two languages share some characteristics in their attitude-bearing wh-questions. It is widely assumed in L2 research that first language (L1) structures similar to or the same as those in the target language can facilitate the course of L2 acquisition but L1 structures which are different from the target language interfere with successful L2 acquisition. However, the findings in this study show that wh-movement in English wh-questions is not transferred into their L2 Chinese and that the similarities between English and Chinese have very limited facilitating functions in English speakers’ handling of Chinese attitude-bearing wh-questions. The findings here support Yuan’s (2001) argument that L1 transfer is a relative phenomenon in L2 acquisition and can be accounted for on the basis of PrĂ©vost et al.’s (2014) analysis that computation complexity can override L1 influence.

Please note: this seminar will take place in Building 46 Lecture Theatre B/room 2003 (Highfield Campus)

All welcome!


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