Linguistics ETDs

Publication Date

12-1-2014

Abstract

Spatial and temporal expressions cross-linguistically are metaphorical can present a difficult challenge during second language acquisition. This dissertation expands on Slobins (1996) study of 'first-language thinking in second-language speaking,' and applies linguistic relativity theory and Vygotsky's theory on thought and language to investigate how L1 thinking influences L2 speaking in Chinese native speakers learning English and English native speakers learning Chinese. It examines (a) habitual language use of spatial and temporal referents cross-linguistically and (b) dynamic changes of spatial and spatial-temporal expressions in L2 learners across proficiency levels. Some 41 CLLs and ELLs at four proficiency levels participated in this study. Data were collected via an experimental approach and were analyzed by narrative analysis with statistical support. Each participant told two stories in the Chinese and English languages. By comparing native language data, it was found that English speakers used more horizontal and vertical terms to reference physical space, while Chinese speakers used more horizontal and vertical terms to reference time. Their habitual language use carried over to their L2 speech. The dynamic changes of using spatial and temporal referents in L2 speakers across proficiency levels are consistent with Vygotsky's framework of verbal thinking. The results also suggested that the characteristic of Chinese as a highly metaphorical language have an impact on its speakers' thoughts, which is the center of the linguistic relativity theory.

Project Sponsors

Research Project and Travel Grants; Student Research Allocations Committee Grants

Language

English

Keywords

SLA, Chinese language learners, Spatial-temporal, linguistic relativity, Vygotsky

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Educational Linguistics

Level of Degree

Doctoral

Department Name

Division of Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies

First Advisor

Mahn, Holbrook

First Committee Member (Chair)

Axelrod, Melissa

Second Committee Member

Morford, Jill

Third Committee Member

Patterson, Janet

Comments

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Linguistics Commons

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