Complex Noun Phrases in ESL Narratives: Structural and Discourse Properties

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This study characterizes the structural and discourse properties of nominal postmodifiers in the narratives of ESL learners. It assumes that a full understanding of language acquisition requires the integration of structural and functional aspects of language use. Spontaneous oral and written narratives were elicited from Japanese and Korean native speakers. The analysis of these narratives was informed by Biber, Johansson, Leech, Conrad, and Finegan's (1999) descriptive grammatical categories and corpus findings and by Fox and Thompson's (1990) study of relative clause function in English conversations. The discussion focuses on prepositional phrases, relative clauses, and participial clauses. The results indicate that their structural and discourse properties are largely consistent with reported English uses. Unexpected patterns are examined and tentatively explained in terms of discourse function or possible influence of the L 1. These results provide support for an approach to the study of language acquisition and use that recognizes the interdependence of discourse and grammar.

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Department of Linguistics - Simon Fraser University
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Thesis (M.A.)