The acquisition of finiteness by Turkish learners of German and Turkish learners of French: Investigating knowledge of forms and functions in production and comprehension
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[S.l. : s.n.]
Number of pages
RU Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, 21 april 2009
Promotor : Klein, W. Co-promotor : Dimroth, C.
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This thesis investigates the acquisition of finiteness by adult Turkish learners of German and adult Turkish learners of French, who acquire the target-language in an immersion setting, without receiving much formal instruction. The thesis aims at investigating both the formal and functional knowledge that learners acquire about finiteness, using both elicited production and comprehension tasks. Regarding formal knowlegde, that is, knowledge about target-like verbal inflection and verb placement, it is argued that this knowledge is built up in a step-wise process, in line with structure-building views (Vainikka and Young-Scholten, 1996, Dimroth et al., 2003), and againts theories claiming the presence of native-like syntactic categories in early second language syntax. Regarding functional knowledge, evidence from a picture-selection task is presented that supports the claim made by Klein (2006) that on of the main functions of finiteness is to express assertion, and that learners are only aware of this from a certain point in development on, if at all. Finally, the thesis describes the different acquisition paths that are taken by learners of the two target-languages: Learners of German start out with a clearly non-finite system of utterance organization. They then reach a turning point at which they switch to a more target-like finite system and come to associate the function of assertion marking with finite forms. In contrast, learners of French use a seemingly finite system much earlier in the acquisition process. However, the knowledge they have about this system seems to be more superficial than in the learners of German, and to not include knowledge about the assertion-marking function of finiteness. Several differences between German and French are discussed as potential factors contributing to this cross-linguistic difference.
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