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Testing the Aspect Hypothesis in L2 Russian

Martelle, Wendy M (2011) Testing the Aspect Hypothesis in L2 Russian. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh.

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    Abstract

    Previous research involving the Aspect Hypothesis (AH) has shown that second language (L2) learners are sensitive to lexical aspect when applying grammatical markers, associating perfective-past marking with telic verbs and imperfective past marking with atelic verbs (Andersen, 1991; Andersen & Shirai, 1994). Some studies, however, report that in the initial stages of learning, L2 learners may assign a default past tense form across lexical aspect categories, suggesting that beginning learners may not initially adhere to the AH (e.g., Salaberry, 1999). The primary purpose of this dissertation is to investigate the degree to which L2 learners of Russian at various levels of proficiency adhere to the AH. This dissertation addresses two primary issues: (1) the degree to which L2 Russian learners of varying proficiency levels adhere to the AH, and (2) the conditions under which the AH may or may not be supported. Data from written narratives (N=42) and oral narratives (N=42), elicited using a film clip (Modern Times), and oral proficiency interview conversations (N=33) collected from classroom learners of Russian (L1 English) at various proficiency levels were analyzed for lexical aspect and tense-aspect marking with comparable data from native Russian speakers (N=18). The results indicate that the AH is supported to varying degrees dependent on task type and proficiency level, and that tasks involving lower planning levels (oral narratives and conversations) were generally more supportive of the AH, compared to the written narrative task that involved a higher level of planning. The results also show that beginning-level learners of Russian prefer the imperfective form in the past tense across the different task types. The results constitute preliminary support for the default past tense hypothesis in that there is a preference for a default marker (whether imperfective or perfective) in the past tense, at least in the beginning stages of language learning by L1 English classroom learners of aspectual languages such as Spanish or Russian. Two factors discussed as possible explanations for the use of default markers are the role of instruction and L1 influence.


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    Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
    ETD Committee:
    ETD Committee TypeCommittee MemberEmail
    Committee ChairShirai, Yasuhiroyshirai@pitt.edu
    Committee MemberBirnbaum, Daviddjbpitt@pitt.edu
    Committee MemberMortensen, Daviddrm31@pitt.edu
    Committee MemberMcCormick, Dawnmccormic@pitt.edu
    Committee MemberKiesling, Scottkiesling@pitt.edu
    Title: Testing the Aspect Hypothesis in L2 Russian
    Status: Unpublished
    Abstract: Previous research involving the Aspect Hypothesis (AH) has shown that second language (L2) learners are sensitive to lexical aspect when applying grammatical markers, associating perfective-past marking with telic verbs and imperfective past marking with atelic verbs (Andersen, 1991; Andersen & Shirai, 1994). Some studies, however, report that in the initial stages of learning, L2 learners may assign a default past tense form across lexical aspect categories, suggesting that beginning learners may not initially adhere to the AH (e.g., Salaberry, 1999). The primary purpose of this dissertation is to investigate the degree to which L2 learners of Russian at various levels of proficiency adhere to the AH. This dissertation addresses two primary issues: (1) the degree to which L2 Russian learners of varying proficiency levels adhere to the AH, and (2) the conditions under which the AH may or may not be supported. Data from written narratives (N=42) and oral narratives (N=42), elicited using a film clip (Modern Times), and oral proficiency interview conversations (N=33) collected from classroom learners of Russian (L1 English) at various proficiency levels were analyzed for lexical aspect and tense-aspect marking with comparable data from native Russian speakers (N=18). The results indicate that the AH is supported to varying degrees dependent on task type and proficiency level, and that tasks involving lower planning levels (oral narratives and conversations) were generally more supportive of the AH, compared to the written narrative task that involved a higher level of planning. The results also show that beginning-level learners of Russian prefer the imperfective form in the past tense across the different task types. The results constitute preliminary support for the default past tense hypothesis in that there is a preference for a default marker (whether imperfective or perfective) in the past tense, at least in the beginning stages of language learning by L1 English classroom learners of aspectual languages such as Spanish or Russian. Two factors discussed as possible explanations for the use of default markers are the role of instruction and L1 influence.
    Date: 30 September 2011
    Date Type: Completion
    Defense Date: 02 August 2011
    Approval Date: 30 September 2011
    Submission Date: 19 August 2011
    Access Restriction: No restriction; The work is available for access worldwide immediately.
    Patent pending: No
    Institution: University of Pittsburgh
    Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
    Refereed: Yes
    Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
    URN: etd-08192011-095342
    Uncontrolled Keywords: aspect; L2 Acquisition; Russian
    Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Linguistics
    Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 15:00
    Last Modified: 06 Jan 2012 15:22
    Other ID: http://etd.library.pitt.edu/ETD/available/etd-08192011-095342/, etd-08192011-095342

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