This study examines the production of English relative constructions by Japanese learners in terms of semantic and discoursal properties. English relative constructions of Japanese learners and native speakers of English were extracted from a written corpus: the Nagoya Interlanguage Corpus of English (Sugiura 2008). This study examines the data according to the levels of the learners’ English proficiency and investigates the information status (New, Given, and Identifiable) (Chafe 1974), animacy status of the head noun phrases (Animate, Concrete Inanimate, and Abstract Inanimate) (Ming and Chen 2010), and head types (intransitive subject, transitive subject, object, oblique, main clause, noun phrase and predicate noun phrase). The results show (1) different patterns of relative constructions between Japanese learners and native speakers of English and different patterns depending on the learners’ proficiency; (2) that intransitive subject relative clause was the most frequent regardless of the animacy status; (3) that the native speakers and the advanced learners tended to produce the relative constructions when the heads are New in general English discourse, while the less advanced learners tended to produce English relative constructions according to the preference of Japanese information status; (4) that the high-intermediate learners showed a strong tendency to produce relative constructions when they modified human referents; and (5) that the learners produced relative clauses to introduce New referents into the discourse. This study demonstrates that the semantic and discoursal information affect the mechanisms of the L2 acquisition of the relative constructions in written language.
|Keywords:||English Relative Constructions, Relative Clause, Animacy, Information Status,, Written Corpus, Discourse, Second Language Acquisition, Production|
Associate Professor, Postgraduate School, Tokyo Healthcare University, Setagaya, Setagaya-Ward, Japan