An Experimental study on acquisition of prepositions in English as a third language

Çabuk, Sakine
This study explores the role of cross-linguistic influence in third language acquisition process by examining English adpositions. Comprehension, processing and production of English prepositions (in, on, at, behind, over, to) were examined through off-line and on-line data collection tasks to find out which of the two known languages (L1 or L2) is the major source of cross-linguistic influence on the acquisition of English (L3) adpositions given the fact that adpositions are morphologically and syntactically different in Turkish, Kurdish and English languages. The main reason behind the choice of these particular prepositions lies in their morpho-syntactic properties in Kurdish, Turkish and English. While some adpositions have similar representations in these languages (e.g., behind, over appear as prepositions in both Kurdish and English), some others have different representations (e.g., in, on, at appear as prepositions in English, case markers and/or postpositions in Turkish and preposition and/or circumpositions in Kurdish). Participants of the study were Turkish-Kurdish bilinguals who formed experimental group and L1-Turkish monolinguals who served as control group. Two off-line picture description tasks (picture description task with multiple choices and teddy bear picture description task) and an on-line self-paced v reading task were employed to collect data. The finding of the study revealed that Turkish-Kurdish bilinguals were better in comprehending, producing and processing target prepositions than L1-Turkish control group, particularly when they have structural overlaps between the adpositional systems of L1-Kurdish and L3-English. The findings are suggestive of typology as an overriding factor in cross-linguistic influence in the acquisition of L3 English. Structural overlaps between Kurdish and English facilitated the acquisition of English preposition for Turkish-Kurdish bilinguals.  


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Citation Formats
S. Çabuk, “An Experimental study on acquisition of prepositions in English as a third language,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2016.