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MORPHOLOGICAL TYPE, SPATIAL REFERENCE, AND LANGUAGE TRANSFER
Ohio State University
This study clarifies issues related to the transferability of bound morphology and reports on an empirical investigation of morphological transfer in the spatial expressions of Finnish-speaking (n = 140) and Swedish-speaking (n = 70) adolescent learners of English. The results indicate that both the bound, agglutinative morphology of the L1 Finnish spatial system and the free, prepositional morphology of the L1 Swedish spatial system constrain the types of options that learners pursue in their L2 English spatial reference. Additionally, however, the structural and semantic differences between the two L1 systems result in different patterns of spatial reference in the L2. We characterize these differences in terms of semantic transfer and simplification, and go on to show how transfer and simplification interact in our data.
During the many years of interest in the phenomenon of language transfer, one of the most frequently discussed issues has been transferability. Again and again researchers have addressed the question of what constraints, if any, there are on cross-linguistic influence. Some have stated or implied that virtually no constraints exist (e.g., Thomason & Kaufman, 1988), whereas others
An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Second Language Research Forum, October, 1998. The authors would like to thank Kathleen Bardovi-Harlig, Donna Lardiere, Jussi Niemi, Bonnie Schwartz, Helena Sulkala, Sangeetha Venkatraman, and Don Winford for their help with different aspects of this research. Address correspondence to: Scott Jarvis, Dept. of Linguistics, Ohio University, Gordy Hall 383, Athens, OH 45701; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2000 Cambridge University Press 0272-2631/00 $9.50
Scott Jarvis and Terence Odlin
have seen the constraints as very far reaching: In the case of Dulay, Burt, and Krashen (1982), for example, transfer involving either morphology or syntax was considered to be minimal. Although many problems remain to be solved, the growth of the empirical record has made it increasingly clear that some supposedly nontransferable structures do indeed find their way into interlanguage grammars: for example, basic word-order patterns and semantically opaque idioms (e.g., Odlin, 1989, 1990, 1991). Our paper addresses yet another supposedly nontransferable domain: bound morphology in the context of a more general investigation of transfer in spatial reference. The term “morphological transfer” can mean many things, and in the next section these possibilities are considered as well as the notion of transfer itself. Of all the subsystems of language, there has probably been more skepticism about the transferability of morphology than about any other. Writing in 1881, William Dwight Whitney downplayed the likelihood of such “transfer” (his term), especially transfer involving inflectional morphology, and arguments similar to his have found their way into the claims of other students of historical linguistics and language contact, several of whom are noted by Thomason and Kaufman (1988). During the 1970s, when many second language researchers felt skeptical about grammatical transfer, morphology was sometimes pointed to as an area immune to cross-linguistic influence. For Dulay and Burt (1974), the investigations of Uriel Weinreich (1953/1968) came up with no convincing evidence for morphological transfer. Krashen (1983) made similar claims, and in recent papers Eubank (1993/1994; Eubank, Bischof, Huffstutler, Leek, & West, 1997) has adopted the same position. In Eubank’s case, the supposed facts about nontransferability underpin certain positions he takes with respect to Universal Grammar. In his 1993/1994 paper, he argued that “NL influence appears to be more limited: Lexical as well as functional projections transfer, as do directionality characteristics of those projections, but morphology-driven information like the strength of the inflection does not transfer” (pp. 183–184). Further on in the same paper, he cited previous work: “The Dulay and Burt research lends support to the idea that inflection does not transfer even though other aspects of the NL may” (p. 206). In his co-authored 1997 paper, some of the arguments about UG had changed, but the position on nontransferability remained the same, with an assumption that “overt inflectional morphology generally does not transfer from NL to L2” (p. 176).1 Our differences with Eubank have nothing to do with the UG issues he has raised but rather with the empirical issue of transferability itself. In general, three points about the tradition of skepticism about this issue should be emphasized. First, any discussion of morphological transfer should consider all of the possible ways in which cross-linguistic influence might be manifested— and this is something that the skeptics have generally failed to do. Second, a careful reading of Weinreich (1953/1968, pp. 33, 68) shows that he was not so skeptical about such transfer; in fact, some of the evidence he cited indicates that morphology is susceptible to cross-linguistic influence (e.g., Rosetti,
As a contribution toward understanding those questions. As will be seen. Selinker. which is followed by a comparison of the morphosyntax of spatial reference in Finnish and Swedish. Before the comparison. 1983. One key way in which retention differs from falling back is that learners often create hybrid forms that show a blending of L1 and L2 forms. Third. We then describe the investigation and the methods used. The notion of retention is applicable whether or not the attempt at coping converges with the target language (i. 1992. since Weinreich’s time there have been studies that make a convincing case for transferability.e. The empirical issue at present is not just whether morphological transfer occurs but also what constitutes this type of transfer and how such transfer may operate. learners may retain something from their L1 or some other language to aid in coping with the new challenges. 1992.” but it is clearly a blend of an L1 and an L2 form.Morphological Transfer 537 1945–1949). POSSIBLE MEANINGS OF MORPHOLOGICAL TRANSFER As Selinker (1992) observed. Yet although its status as a cover term is undeniable. some of which will be discussed in the following sections. Although retention encompasses much of what is meant by language transfer. we discuss the possible meanings of morphological transfer.. The evidence seems especially compelling from a more general comparison of the systems of spatial reference used by learners whose native language (L1) is Swedish and by those whose L1 is Finnish. Krashen’s claims are not credible even though some transfer might be regarded as a default behavior arising from ignorance of the target language (L2). 1979). The use of vinetrees owes something to the Swedish word vintra ¨ d “grape vine. much of what is called cross-linguistic influence can be viewed in terms of retentions: Whenever challenges of using or understanding a second language arise. including the L1 (see Schachter. hypercorrection. positive transfer) or diverges (negative transfer). Such lexical hybrids reflect only one of the ways in which any learner can creatively construct an interlanguage shaped by many factors. as seen in a sentence written by a native speaker of Swedish who was describing a film: They have many appletrees and vinetrees. our investigation indicates that the nominal case system of Finnish is a frequent source of cross-linguistic influence in the acquisition of English. the patterns of spatial reference favored by these two populations are quite different and clearly reflect differences in the L1s. Sharwood Smith. it is not necessarily applicable to all interlanguage behaviors that may be susceptible to influence from the L1. with the discussion of the results offering a chance to consider closely issues of transfer and simplification in relation to earlier work. including avoidance. however. and simplifica- . the term “language transfer” encompasses a wide range of phenomena. Although the notion of retention might seem equivalent to claims by Krashen (1983) that transfer is no more than “falling back” on the L1.” literally “wine tree.
However. however. rather different issues can be involved when bound morphemes are in question as opposed to independent words.. where the acquisition of L2 structures causes some kind of change in the L1. a Finn might equate taivaassa with English in heaven. 1996) provides still further instances. examples of such divergence are discussed at some length later in the paper. there must be interlingual identifications. p. For example. and Whitney (1881. The distinction between inflectional and derivational morphology is clearly important. they should inform any well-developed characterization of L1 transfer because in both “borrowing” and “substratum” transfer (to use terms from Odlin . Whereas this example involves positive transfer. Since Whitney’s time. some of the evidence to be discussed later (e. such influence resulting from the bilingualism of Greeks who had acquired Turkish. with the latter covering cases of transfer in SLA). Although such cases are only indirectly relevant to SLA research. Sulkala.538 Scott Jarvis and Terence Odlin tion. where the free morpheme in functions as the equivalent of the inessive case marker in Finnish. the Finnish inessive case inflection -ssa with the Estonian form -s and thus equate Finnish taivaassa “in heaven” with Estonian taevas “in heaven. Bound morphology itself is not at all monolithic. quite correctly. which he also considered to be more or less immune to transfer. Interlingual identifications involving bound morphology may also be possible even when the L2 structure does not rely on affixes.” with positive transfer resulting in speech or writing if the extra syllable in the Finnish form is discarded. negative transfer might also occur—and indeed. cross-linguistic influence involving any free or bound morpheme technically qualifies as morphological transfer. an Estonian learner of Finnish might identify. cross-linguistic influence can also work in the opposite direction. once again. the notion of morphological transfer includes many phenomena. Second language users may make interlingual identifications that involve both semantic and phonological structures. and the “latent psychological structure” underlying identifications in either type of transfer may be largely the same (see Selinker. One of the most convincing counter examples to Whitney’s (1881) claim about the nontransferability of inflections is a study by Dawkins (1916) of dialects of Greek in which there are clear instances of Turkish verbal inflections finding their way into the verb systems of Greek. Transfer involving bound morphology can itself be subcategorized in several ways. a number of counterexamples to his claim have come to light and. Among the kinds of transferable structures is bound morphology.g. the latter behavior being one that we will discuss in some detail later in this article. . Even within the restricted scope of retention. however. On the other hand. For research on L2 acquisition. 1992). On a purely semantic basis. the focus of transfer research is naturally on retentions from the L1 (or some other previously learned language). 20) considered inflectional morphemes to be less likely candidates for transfer than derivational ones. For example.
for example. Thus when Finnish learners produce word-order errors in English. a Bantu language. and it is important to emphasize that any claims about the transferability of bound morphology must consider positive as well as negative transfer. To our knowledge. the outcome of any cross-linguistic influence can be either convergent or divergent. PURPOSES OF THE PRESENT INVESTIGATION The present paper examines morphological transfer in the spatial reference of Finnish-speaking and Swedish-speaking learners of English. That is. 1989). the extensive inflection on Finnish nouns (see the section titled “Typological Comparison of Finnish and Swedish”) interacts with the order of clause constituents so that the word order of Finnish is highly flexible. as in She took from the car bread. another Bantu language. Eubank’s (1993/1994) claim about the “overt bound morphology” is clearly untenable in light of a study by Orr (1987) that shows that speakers of Ngoni. Our purpose is threefold: (a) to examine the types of interlingual identifications that learners make between the spatial morphology of the L1 and L2. For example. the interdependence of morphology and syntax in Finnish may well be a factor. there are also possible effects arising from the interaction between other linguistic subsystems. Because such comparative studies are the exception and not the rule in language-transfer research. but they are especially valuable in demonstrating a facilitative influence as in the case of the advantage shown by Ngoni speakers (see Odlin. More generally.Morphological Transfer 539 As suggested already. (b) to investigate the formal means by which learners exhibit their interlingual identifications. Whatever effects transfer may show with regard to a morphological system. so too have hypotheses concerning comprehension (in contrast to production) been rarely discussed. in comparison with learners of Chichewa whose L1 was Gujarati. Just as positive transfer has often been ignored in discussions of morphological transfer. if Ringbom (1992) is correct that the advantages of transfer are especially great in comprehension tasks. had a strong advantage in learning the complex prefixation of Chichewa. it is not surprising that possible facilitating effects of similarities of bound morphology in some cases have gone largely unnoticed. and (c) to explore possible interactions between morphological transfer and mor- . such kinds of interactive factors have not yet been extensively studied with regard to transfer. and they are only briefly mentioned here. the benefits may frequently involve some kind of positive morphological transfer. an Indo-European language that makes no use of the Bantu prefixing system. Such comparisons of different L1 groups can help to determine negative transfer. Intuition suggests. that the similarity between Finnish taivaassa and Estonian taevas would help an Estonian in comprehending Finnish just as it presumably would in producing structures in the L2. any fully satisfactory account of transfer and morphology should specify just how cross-linguistic similarity might contribute advantages in listening or reading comprehension.
and whether it can involve the retention of L1 morphological properties. .540 Scott Jarvis and Terence Odlin phological simplification in learners’ spatial reference. however. and how will they differ from Swedish-speaking learners? 4. The second question more explicitly addresses the transferability of bound morphology. the present study compares the English spatial expressions of Finnish-speaking learners with those of Swedish-speaking learners. Finally. Can learners from different L1 backgrounds be distinguished according to the types of options that they pursue with respect to both spatial reference and morphological transfer? 2. It also requires a comparison of the options that Finns and Swedes seem to have at their disposal. What types of morphological transfer will Finnish-speaking learners exhibit in their English spatial reference. This is essentially what the first research question asks. which would constitute positive support for our first research question. Will Finnish-speaking learners make interlingual identifications between the bound locative morphology of Finnish and the spatial prepositions of English? 3. If one were to adopt the traditional assumption that bound morphology does not transfer. requires us to analyze more specifically whether properties of Finnish bound morphology are actually retained in Finns’ reference to spatial relations in English. moreover. This alone could result in different sets of options for Finnish-speaking versus Swedishspeaking learners. it follows that learners from different L1 backgrounds will have at their disposal different (though probably overlapping) sets of structural and semantic options for expressing their intended message in the L2. although Swedish is similar to English in its coding of locative and directional information primarily through spatial prepositions. Our research is guided by the following questions: 1. Because the spatial systems of the learners’ L1s differ both structurally and semantically (see section entitled “Typological Comparison of Finnish and Swedish”). Will both Finnish-speaking and Swedish-speaking learners exhibit morphological simplification in their English spatial reference. and. The third research question requires a full account of the structural and semantic patterns that both Finns and Swedes exhibit in their English spatial reference. which ones involve morphological transfer. Thus. this question requires an interpretation of which options involve transfer. Finnish expresses spatial relationships mainly through bound. and will they differ with respect to their patterns of simplification? In cases in which learners retain structural or semantic properties from their L1s. it is relevant to ask whether these differences will lead to differences in the structural and semantic patterns (or options) they display in their English spatial reference. Our second research question. This question becomes pertinent because. an important question from the perspective of the present paper is whether this type of transfer can be found in learners’ reference to spatial relations. then one might expect to find transfer in Swedes’ but not Finns’ English spatial reference. As mentioned earlier. agglutinative morphology.
Finnish is a Finno-Ugric language. the structural characteristics of their languages have remained largely unaffected. omissions) or semantic simplification (e. First. In this section.. on the other hand. has a complex subject-verb agreement system in which the verb takes a separate . 1993. The Swedish verbal system is also simple and has no subject-verb agreement at all (e. has only the nominative and genitive cases for nouns.. As a point of departure. Insofar as performance differences between learners from different L1 backgrounds suggest the possibility of transfer. accusative. it may indicate that some types of simplification come about at least partly through transfer. Finnish has 15 productive nominal cases that are expressed as agglutinative suffixes on nouns and their modifying adjectives. one must first understand how our learners’ L1s differ. 1981. & Hildeman. Higelin. (It should be noted. Swedish. and more distantly to (among other languages) Hungarian. and a number of cases that correspond roughly with various prepositions and other function words in either English or Swedish (see. see Comrie. closely related to Estonian. Finnish. 19–23). Although Finns and Swedes share a long history of cultural contact. however. Swedish. Some borrowing. Karlsson.g. Karlsson. Beite. 1987.) Most of the cases are expressed differently in the singular and plural. like English. unlike Turkish. Ringbom. In other words. 1963). therefore. that the agglutination in Finnish sometimes involves obscure stem-affix boundaries. however.g. we provide a brief typological comparison of Finnish and Swedish. One of the most striking grammatical characteristics of Finnish is its nominal case system (see Homburg & Nikanne. has occurred—especially from Swedish to Finnish—but this has had little effect on the grammar of either language (cf.Morphological Transfer 541 The final research question addresses the interaction between simplification and transfer. and English. pp.. genitive. and genitive cases for pronouns. it is important to recognize that the Finnish and Swedish languages are historically unrelated and typologically distinct. pp. We consider these possibilities in more detail in the “Discussion” section. It also asks whether learners from different L1 backgrounds differ in the patterns of simplification that they exhibit. it asks whether learners’ patterns of spatial reference include instances of structural simplification (e.. mainly lexical. and the nominative. accusative. 1983. 22–24).g. any emerging differences in Finns’ and Swedes’ patterns of simplification may indicate an interaction between transfer and simplification. semantic overgeneralization). partitive. Dutch. e. Englund. 1983). TYPOLOGICAL COMPARISON OF FINNISH AND SWEDISH To fully appreciate the aims and results of the present study. The nominal cases in Finnish include the nominative.g. with the result that almost every noun and adjective in Finnish has over two dozen distinct forms—and even more when the Finnish possessive suffixes and agglutinative particles are taken into consideration. is a Germanic language and is closely related to (among other languages) Danish.
and prepositional systems.g. Finnish. The article systems of Swedish will not be discussed further in this paper. The locative case system in Finnish is shown in Table 1. most of which are more commonly used as postpositions. English and Swedish conflate goal and location into a single category for internal (e. First. Karlsson. Swedish also has both definite and indefinite article systems that realize the same functions as English articles and additionally reflect the grammatical gender and number of the noun (Beite et al.. from) that are neutral as to whether the goal. Basic spatial systems of Finnish.. and is contrasted with the basic locative prepositions in Swedish and English. Finnish has only about 15 prepositions. 1997). In English and Swedish. Laury.. Each class is further divided according to whether the marked noun represents the goal. cf. 1987. and nearly all others are expressed with postpositions. and there are at least three important differences with respect to the spatial systems of English and Swedish versus Finnish. and other grammatical and semantic relations. Finally. in). second. location. Swedish is grammatically richer than Finnish only in its grammatical gender. whereas Finnish has none.g. prepositions can be used to represent these spatial distinctions. to.g. Most of the spatial and temporal relations that are expressed in Swedish and English with prepositions are expressed in Finnish through the nominal case system. 1963). unlike Finnish.. article. Thus Swedish has its own distinct complications involving bound morphology. or source of the predicated action. but it is relevant to point out here that the definite article in Swedish involves a bound morpheme. or third person and whether it is singular or plural (e. temporal. lacks articles as a separate grammatical class (Ringbom. .542 Scott Jarvis and Terence Odlin Table 1. whereas Swedish has a rich system of prepositions to represent spatial. although optionally allowing for the use of thirdperson pronouns as definite articles in certain contexts. The six Finnish locative cases are formally and semantically divided into two general classes: the internal and the external locatives. English. English and Swedish include a class of prepositions (e. Swedish has two grammatical genders. Second. and Swedish Finnish locative cases Locatives Internal External Neutral Goal -Vn -lle Location -ssa -lla Source -sta -lta English and Swedish basic spatial prepositions Goal into in i onto ˚ pa to till Goal/ location in i on ˚ pa at vid Source out (of) ˚n (ut) ur/ifra off (of) av from ˚n fra suffix depending on whether the subject is first. or source is internal or external. at. 1983). unlike Finnish. location.
RESULTS We will first discuss the two verbs that we have examined in detail: take and sit (although there will also be a brief discussion of put ). While doing so. quite often with locative and directional expressions. Both of these occur frequently in learners’ descriptions. In the case of sit. takes. The Americans were in the fifth.. First. the goal and location prepositions in English and Swedish are formally distinct from their source counterparts. seventh. We coded each occurrence of any recognizable form of sit —not only sit. and 66 American adolescents who were tested in their L1s (see Jarvis. seventh.Morphological Transfer 543 external (e. and ninth grades. we coded each occurrence of any recognizable form. Examples of these contrasts will appear later in the tables of our empirical study. and also variant forms such as toke and token. The results of the two analyses are presented in the next section. including take. and taken. and neutral (e.g. -lla. fifth. In the second analysis. sat. Third. at ) prepositions. and put. participants were shown an 8-minute segment of the silent film Modern Times. and immediately afterwards they were asked to write a narrative of the film. METHOD AND ANALYSIS Participants in the present study included 140 Finnish and 70 Finland-Swedish adolescents who were tested in English. or seventh year of formal English instruction at the time of testing. 44 Finland-Swedish. we identified the directional. sits. sit. we identified participants’ reference to a specific scene in the film in which a person is seen taking bread out of the back of a delivery vehicle. as well as another 66 Finnish.. the formal similarity between the external suffixes -lle. In connection with this analysis. We excluded from the analysis any cases of sit that did not occur with an internal nominal . took.g. Likewise. and of these 239 had locative or directional phrases that included nouns or pronouns.2 The Finns were fifth. and sitting.g. taking. we tabulated and quantified learners’ reference to this source-oriented spatial relationship. but also forms such as sett and satted. and ninth graders in public schools in Finland where the language of instruction is Finnish. on). and -lta). As part of a larger study. All of the EFL learners were in their third. 1987).. there were 352 recognizable forms. 1998). whereas the goal and location suffixes in Finnish are formally similar to their source counterparts (e. we tabulated participants’ use or nonuse of prepositions along with these verbs. and we quantified the results according to lexical type and participants’ L1 background. and the Finland Swedes (henceforth. These narratives constitute the data for the present paper. goal-oriented usages of the verbs take. in the case of take. Swedes) were seventh and ninth graders in similar schools in Finland where the language of instruction is Swedish (see Ringbom. Two types of analysis were performed.
which were generally either simple intransitive verbs or tokens occurring with an adverb such as there or down. Then they sat under the big tree. In the case of in and on. Chaplin and girl sat to grass. Table 3. The figures in Table 3 show some striking intergroup differences. whereas their choice of under does not seem very distinctive. Thus. Most significantly. Examples of prepositions co-occurring with sit Preposition Zero in on under by to Sample sentence C. and these omissions of prepositions reflect an important intergroup difference. Charlie and woman sit on the crass [sic]. Frequency of prepositions co-occurring with sit and grass in the lawn scene Group Finns Swedes Americans Total Zero 5 0 0 5 in 5 7 4 16 on 21 5 1 27 to 6 0 0 6 argument. Table 2 shows sentences with the most common examples of prepositional choices made by the native speaker and learner groups. only the Finns used patterns with zero prepositions. Table 4 shows the choices . Table 3 suggests possible intergroup differences. and the woman go to sit the grass. Frequency of prepositions co-occurring with sit Group Finns Swedes Americans Total Zero 12 0 0 12 in 14 17 7 38 on 43 18 15 76 under 18 21 12 51 by 2 0 15 17 to 8 1 0 9 Other 15 15 5 35 Table 4. we did include all cases in which the adverb co-occurred with a prepositional phrase as in sit down on the grass.C. After that they sat in grass. Finns more often chose the preposition to. but these can be more clearly appreciated when only instances involving the same context are considered. Chaplin and the woman sit by the street. Likewise. However. and Table 3 shows the statistical pattern.544 Scott Jarvis and Terence Odlin Table 2. The 12 instances of zero came from 12 different individuals.
Table 5 shows sentences with the most common examples of prepositional choices. A chi-square test run on the Finns’ and Swedes’ choices revealed a statistically significant intergroup difference (χ2 = 11. our count focuses on cases where take occurred with a nominal argument indicating a spatial goal. there is a strong preference among the Finns for into. a Fisher’s Exact test was also run (exact p = 0. In the case of take. Take is usually a transitive verb. however. whereas the Swedes preferred in the grass. which was used 10 times. which confirmed the results of the chisquare test.01). 771 in all. Then policeman take Chaplin in the police car. there are numerous instances of zero prepositions occurring with take produced by the Finns: 10 cases. The most frequent noun used in nominal arguments in this context was grass. In our corpus. this verb showed proportionally fewer instances with a nominal locative argument.01). we excluded nominal arguments involving source—for example. whereas Swedes only used that preposition . Examples of prepositions co-occurring with take Preposition Zero to into in Sample sentence The policeman take Charlie policecar. with 9 of them coming from different individuals. From Table 4 it is evident that the Finns showed a strong preference for phrases such as on the grass. Then he take Charlie into the car. as in the first three examples in Table 2. These instances were interesting. and Table 6 shows the statistical pattern. Moreover. Table 6. Frequency of prepositions co-occurring with take Group Finns Swedes Americans Total Zero 10 0 0 10 to 25 13 7 45 into 10 2 1 13 in 11 6 0 17 Other 1 0 1 2 when the young writers attempted to recount a scene in the film where the two escapees sit on a lawn and dream of a better life. df = 3. Moreover.Morphological Transfer 545 Table 5. However. asymptotic p = 0. we excluded numerous cases from our analysis. in comparison with sit. As in the case of sit. as in took Charlie Chaplin to the policecar. and we will discuss learner expressions involving source later. Police take him to a police car. yet although it has an obligatory direct-object argument. locative arguments are normally optional.39. there were many more recognizable forms. take milk from a cow. To control for the possible effects of small cell values.
and so it is not surprising that most Finns would be able to make successful interlingual identifications. the three choices of to. into. the motivation is somewhat more complex. and so the statistical pattern in Table 7 is similar to what is seen in Table 6. as discussed in the Discussion section). The normal translations of illatives are to and into. and these choices are also evident in the L1 Swedish compositions.16). We suspect that positive transfer from both Finnish and Swedish accounts for the less divergent patterns in the two L1 groups with take in comparison with sit.” where the -on inflection marks the illative case. and the structure of the L1 can motivate all three choices (though in the case of in. vei is used several times for the paddy wagon scene. exact p = 0. and i for English in (see Table 1). how- . Frequency of prepositions co-occurring with take and -car in the paddy wagon scene Group Finns Swedes Americans Total Zero 8 0 0 8 to 16 9 1 26 into 7 1 0 8 in 8 5 0 13 twice.. the choice of in is also common. In the case of the Swedes. In the L1 Finnish compositions written by students in the control group. The majority of nominal goals cooccurring with take refer to the scene where Chaplin is taken to a paddy wagon. We should note. one can nevertheless see from the results that only the Finns exhibit the zero-preposition option in this context. the illative case (representing internal goal) is the usual inflection to mark the paddy wagon ( poliisiauto) as a directional referent. and every time it is so used. as in Then policeman take Chaplin in the police car. We focused on take and sit because both of these verbs frequently co-occur with locative nominals and because they show significant intergroup differences in the choice of prepositions (including zero). as in Poliisi vei Chaplinin poliisiautoon “The policeman took Chaplin to the police car. Though both groups used to numerous times. the Finnish word for police car is marked with the illative (e.546 Scott Jarvis and Terence Odlin Table 7. their L1 has prepositions corresponding fairly closely to the two most common English choices till for English to. Even though a chi-square test and a Fisher’s Exact test failed to reveal a statistically significant difference between the Finns and Swedes with respect to the figures in Table 7 (χ2 = 5. The likelihood of L1 influence is all the greater in the case of one Finn who apparently could not recall the English form took and used the Finnish equivalent (vei ) instead: Policeman came and vei the Chaplin to policecar. We will discuss the unique status of in a little further on. poliisiautoon). In the L1 Finnish compositions.g. df = 3. Although eight Finns used zero prepositions.59.13. asymptotic p = 0. and in are all viable in the L2.
. as in the sentence . Source into in out of onto on off to at from 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 6 1 0 0 0 2 1 5 26 6 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 2 0 0 — 0 12 13 4 — 9 ever. and Table 9 shows the statistical patterns of the native speaker and learner groups. as well as of the corresponding L1 control groups. for example. So when he goes in she takes some bread out of the truck and runs. Source Goal Loc. The figures for the Finnish learner group show some striking differences . Table 8 shows sentences that are representative of the most common prepositional choices made by the native speaker and learner groups. that intergroup differences are also evident in the case of other verbs as well. Our second analysis is an examination of learners’ spatial reference to a scene in the film in which a person is seen taking bread out of the back of a bakery delivery truck. Table 9.Morphological Transfer 547 Table 8. and 15 in the Swedish narratives. With regard to the verb put. Then she take a bread from car and run away. We coded each occurrence of participants’ reference to this event according to the prepositions or locative markers they chose to refer to the source relationship between the bread and the delivery vehicle. The corpus indeed shows intergroup differences in many areas besides the coding of spatial concepts. Examples of source prepositional choices co-occurring with bread in the theft scene Preposition Zero in out of from Sample sentence The girl stole a loaf a bread the car and run away . Source Goal Loc. a policeman put him to the policecar. 26 in the Finnish narratives. Frequency of source-oriented choices co-occurring with bread in the theft scene Internal Group Experimental groups Finns Swedes Americans L1 control groups Finns Swedes Zero External Neutral Goal Loc. She stealing in the car a bread. the preposition to was used by five Finns (and by no Swedes). There were 53 identifiable references to this event in the English narratives. . . .
This is striking because in does not seem to be a logical candidate to represent the source relation that was ostensibly being referred to. and the 2 instances of in as an external goal marker were produced by two different Finnish learners of English. That woman who stole bread Charlie give he place in woman. When they had escaped in the police car they sat under the tree. and the 13 instances of from for the Swedish group came from 13 different individuals. on the one hand. we conducted a followup analysis of the data in which we identified all of the nonstandard uses of in by the Finnish learner group. and from the Finnish control group. Table 10 shows examples of sentences categorized in this manner. In an attempt to make sense of these. The most frequent choice for both the Finnish and Swedish learner groups is from. The native speaker and L1 control groups are the most consistent in choosing only prepositions or locative suffixes that conventionally mark source relations. To further investigate Finns’ unexpected use of in. As before. the 8 instances in the internal location column were produced by 6 different individuals. Charlie Chaplin is in her way and they crash to each others and fall in the ground and It was some meal and they were cutting it in same time (emphases added). Seven of these involved the phrase in there. The results are revealing. whereas the learner groups—most notably the Finns—use a wider variety of prepositions. The 21 instances of in categorized as internal goal were produced by 19 different individuals. What is most striking about these figures is that a strong second choice for the Finns is the preposition in. we categorized them according to the Finnish locative cases that were used in the same spatial reference contexts by the Finnish L1 control group. and Table 11 shows the statistical pattern.548 Scott Jarvis and Terence Odlin Table 10. the 21 instances of in as an internal source were produced by 19 different individuals. Of the 364 instances of this preposition in the Finns’ narratives. but bumped in Chaplin and they both fell down. we identified 64 nonstandard occurrences. The remaining 52 nonstandard occurrences—produced by 35 different individuals—involved a variety of nontargetlike uses of in for example. and it is also striking because it does not seem to be motivated by the internal-source locative suffix that was consistently chosen by the Finnish L1 control participants. and five others were conspicuous for syntactic reasons. They lay in the crown [ground]. and get up. The 12 instances of from for the Finnish group came from 11 different individuals. both from the Swedish and American groups. on the other. It is important to point out that the data elicited from the Finnish learners . the Finnish learner group is the only group to use patterns with zero prepositions. Examples of Finns’ nonstandard use of in categorized according to the Finnish spatial system Finnish case suffix -Vn (internal goal) -ssa (internal location) -sta (internal source) -lle (external goal) Sample sentence produced by L1-Finnish learner She runaway.
the learners’ overgeneralization of in in this way does not seem likely to be motivated by either direct interlingual identification or L2 input. on the surface. This assumption is given further support by the fact that each of the 19 Finns who used in to represent an internal source relation also used it to mark an internal goal or internal location relation. restated here as follows: What types of morphological transfer do Finnish-speaking learners ex- . The most striking result. -lla 0 Source -lta 0 contain many more instances of in used as an internal goal or internal location marker than are shown here. to which we now turn. to represent an entire class of spatial relations. or both. (b) Finns do seem to make interlingual identifications between the bound locative morphology of Finnish and the spatial prepositions of English. is the figure in the third column of Table 11 that reflects the large number of Finnish learners who used in to mark an internal source. Nevertheless. This is conspicuous because. Given that this preposition carries the meaning of both internal goal and internal location in Standard English. it is noteworthy that Finns’ nonstandard use of in is limited almost exclusively to the internal spatial relations. The evidence here seems to suggest that one way in which Finnish learners of English overgeneralize English spatial prepositions is by choosing a single preposition. The remaining research question is more exploratory. and (c) Finns and Swedes do differ noticeably in their patterns of morphological simplification.Morphological Transfer 549 Table 11. These figures represent only the Finnish learners’ nonstandard uses of the preposition in. Frequency of Finns’ nonstandard use of in by comparison with the Finnish spatial system Internal Goal Case suffix Finns (use of in) -Vn 21 Loc. the figures in the first two columns of Table 11 represent instances in which Finnish learners have overgeneralized the use of in to contexts that are not conventionally marked as internal goal or internal location by native English speakers. in in this case. DISCUSSION Research Questions Addressed Three of our four research questions receive direct confirmation from the present results: (a) Finns and Swedes do show differences in the options they pursue with respect to both spatial reference and morphological transfer. We will say more about the Finns’ overgeneralization of in in our discussion of the results. -ssa 8 Source -sta 21 Goal -lle 2 External Loc. here the internal spatial system. of course.
when faced with L2 input where the . Corresponding patterns were found for the L1 control groups: 27 instances of -lle/-lla “on” and 0 instances of -ssa/-Vn “in” by the Finns. in contrast.550 Scott Jarvis and Terence Odlin hibit in their English spatial reference. is a form of simplification—as we discuss later—but the way the Finns overgeneralize in as a cover term for internal locative and directional relations seems to be motivated by structural differences between Finnish and English. the Finnish locative cases distinguish between external and internal relations. like omission. To begin. As mentioned earlier. and 11 instances of i ˚ “on” by the Swedes. First. it shows that Finns. do not allow such semantic conflation. Therefore. as well as between goal. and how do they differ from Swedishspeaking learners? We attempt to answer this question—as well as provide more support for the previously mentioned research questions—in the following paragraphs. This is an important finding for “in” and 5 instances of pa two reasons. as well as the omission of spatial prepositions by the Finns but not the Swedes. The Finnish locative cases. the Finns’ omission of spatial prepositions in English seems to arise out of an interaction between simplification and transfer. English makes similar distinctions with its spatial prepositions. ignoring the formal disparities. learners match meanings in the L1 and L2. Although the use of a zero preposition is a form of linguistic simplification. With respect to the omission of prepositions. One of the clearest examples of differing prepositional choices involves the learners’ reference to the scene where Chaplin and his female friend are sitting on the grass. and source relations. Overgeneralization. The basis for these interlingual identifications is semantic—that is. The differences arising from L1 background concern the preference for different prepositions by the Finns and Swedes in the same spatial contexts. second. on. Thus. Another result from our analysis that appears to have arisen out of the interaction between transfer and simplification is the Finns’ overgeneralization of the preposition in. the Finnish learner group used patterns with zero prepositions in all of the spatial contexts that we examined. location. the striking differences we have found between the Finns and Swedes in their reference to locative and directional expressions in English leave little doubt that L1 influence is at play in this area of second language acquisition. its use by the Finns also constitutes a form of transfer. and at ) are also used to express goal relations. This means that the preposition in in Standard English conflates both internal location and internal goal. given that the structural nature of the Finnish locative cases predisposes Finns to disregard preposed function words as relevant spatial markers. are capable of making interlingual identifications between postposed bound morphology in Finnish and preposed free morphology in English. The Finns show a strong preference for on. whereas the Swedes prefer in (although both choices are in fact grammatical). in particular. but the English prepositions that express location (in. whereas the Swedish learner group did not use a zero preposition in any of these contexts. it suggests a strong role for semantic transfer in learners’ spatial reference and.
for example. i. some Finnish-speaking learners of English may assume that in can be used to express all internal relations. but she provided few details on the exact nature of the cross-linguistic influence. found two sources of negative transfer in the results of a standardized test taken by Jordanian learners of English: Jordanian Arabic and Modern Standard Arabic. For example. 1986). perceived lexical translation equivalents). conflates internal location and internal goal in a similar manner to English.. Pavesi likewise saw transfer as one. Investigations into the use of English prepositions by Finnish-speaking and Swedish-speaking learners. a ` “to. as in Le chat courait a [sic] la maison “The cat ran to the house. for example. and this appears to be largely due to the more substantial structural differences between Finnish and English with respect to the languages’ spatial systems. Schumann. In the target language. there have naturally been several investigations (e. with jusqu’ a Le chat a couru jusqu’ a ` la maison (the periphrastic verb a couru is also normal. Mukattash. such as internal location. Mukattash asserted that they are nevertheless “dominated by L1 interference” (p. these studies have also identified cases of transfer.. then it must represent a single class of related concepts.e. however. Not all the work on transfer involving prepositions has focused on English. Ringbom. in contrast. Although other semantic contexts imperfect form courait and the choice of a . 1987. have been much more explicit about the nature of cross-linguistic influence (see Ringbom). and it differs from the French norm. although there was probably no interaction between the learner’s choice of the `). many writers chose the preposition a ` to express directional concepts. source of some of the English prepositional errors of Italian speakers. 1984. till” being the normal directional as in but not a directional.g.Morphological Transfer 551 preposition in is used to express more than one internal relation. An extension of Andersen’s (1984) One-to-One Principle may be applicable here: If a linguistic form does not represent a single concept. Relevance to Previous Research The conclusions just discussed are consonant with previous work on the acquisition of spatial reference. The Swedes do not overgeneralize in in this way presumably because the corresponding Swedish word. although not the sole. such as internal space. Harley (1989) compared the performance of native and nonnative speakers of French in their use of spatial prepositions in a controlled composition task. The nonnative speakers showed a strong preference for using prepositions in a manner consistent with their English L1 and not with the L2. 1987. Pavesi. One particular point of concurrence between earlier research in Finland and our own is that Finns omit English prepositions far more often than Swedes do. Mukattash. Carroll. Although many of his learners’ prepositional errors are not directly attributable to transfer. Because prepositions are a notoriously difficult area of English for nonnative speakers. 59) and largely concern the use of primary counterparts (i. 1997.” This use of a ` resembles the English use of to as a directional preposi` is a locative tion. Not surprisingly.
3 produced structures with zero prepositions much more frequently than his three Spanish-speaking learners. Schumann found that his one Cantonese. By the same token. In particular. Mukattash. therefore. of which transfer was only one. In any case.” which he characterized as the use of structurally or grammatically reduced patterns (pp. Martin.g. The evidence for transfer identified by Sulkala clearly strengthens our case about the transferability of bound morphology. as well as in Martin’s (which did not attempt to look at cross-linguistic influence).4 Like Schumann (1986).g. Along with work on the acquisition of prepositions. Schumann’s Spanish speakers overgeneralized their use of the preposition in to refer to spatial relations that would require on. restrictive simplification in the form of prepositional omissions was found to be frequent in the Finns’ spatial expressions but nonexistent in the Swedes’. Sulkala. at.. Schumann and others (e. work on the acquisition of languages sponsored by the European Science Foundation (e. we identified two general types of simplification in learner language that appear to interact with transfer. along with those of Schumann.. In our study. or to in Standard English. the locative-directional contrast elicited by Harley’s task led to negative transfer. 36–37). other factors besides transfer were also found to be at work. in which internal and external spatial meanings are conflated. 1984.g. More on Simplification and Transfer Our findings also support those of Schumann (1986). 1987) have likewise found that even though restric- . Sulkala’s study included a look at likely L1 influence from Estonian. some recent research has examined problems that learners encounter in acquiring highly agglutinative languages such as Finnish (e. In terms of spatial expressions. the clearest cases of restrictive simplification would involve the omission of prepositions or related functional morphology. Extra & Mittner. 1995. Becker & Carroll. 1997. whose L1 does contain spatial prepositions. whose L1s lack spatial prepositions. these differences can be attributed to structural and semantic differences between the spatial systems of the learners’ L1s. who found that transfer and simplification together account for the structure of learners’ spatial expressions. The Spanish speakers appear to have overgeneralized in on the model of the Spanish preposition en. The first type is similar to what Meisel (1980) referred to as “restrictive simplification. 1996). It is important to point out that Schumann’s Spanish speakers overgeneralized in in a substantially different way from how our Finnish speakers did.. show not only instances of restrictive simplification.and two Japanese-speaking learners. Additionally. 1984) considered a variety of cognitive factors involved in the evolution of spatial reference in an L2. but we should note that in her study. Our results. another agglutinative language.552 Scott Jarvis and Terence Odlin allow for positive transfer between English to and French a `. our findings. but also a seemingly strong interaction between this type of simplification and learners’ L1 background. Ringbom. show that transfer and simplification can jointly contribute to the way learners refer to spatial relations in an L2.
our findings indicate that the coding of spatial information in the L1 can greatly influence the way such information is realized in an interlanguage. we certainly do not share his skepticism (1983) about the role of language transfer.Morphological Transfer 553 tive simplification often occurs regardless of transfer.g.. 1984. it appears that both restrictive and elaborative simplification can interact with transfer. location. 1982). the L1 can inform the . 37). In sum. p. Ellis. Schachter’s emphasis on competing hypotheses helps in recognizing that our results indicate more than one possible source for source-language influence. we found convincing support for the interaction between transfer and overgeneralization. CONCLUSION The results of our study provide further evidence of the transferability of bound morphology. Moreover. whereas Swedish-speaking learners do not show the same tendency. Although we adopted Meisel’s (1980) distinction. or an inflectional morpheme. More generally. 1986). This latter point is one that we will return to briefly in our conclusion. we have additionally shown that Finns’ hypotheses concerning the function of in appear to be directly motivated by the nature of their L1 spatial system. elaborative simplification is an attempt “to formulate hypotheses about a certain rule which may be approximations to the actual rule” (Meisel. e. it does seem applicable here. In particular. Schumann. we find it important to emphasize that cross-linguistic influence is compatible with that of hypothesis formation in relation to elaborative simplification. As elaborative simplification includes the notion of semantic overgeneralization. see. we demonstrated that Finnish-speaking learners often overgeneralize the use of in to represent all internal spatial relations (goal. Mukattash. Correa-Beningfield. Whether the information is coded as a preposition. Unlike restrictive simplification. a postposition. 1986). Whether or not the notion of hypothesis formation can account for all types of crosslinguistic influence. too. 1990. 1980.g. More precisely. Besides demonstrating that the two groups of learners differ with respect to their patterns of overgeneralization. e. Thus. like Schumann (1986). Ijaz. our results show instances of this type of simplification. The second general type of simplification that we identified in our data is similar to what Meisel (1980) referred to as “elaborative simplification” (cf. Schachter (1992) saw language transfer arising whenever “previous knowledge” (the L1 in the case of L2 acquisition) constrains the range of hypotheses the learner will invoke to make sense out of an unfamiliar structure. and source).. elaborative simplification is not characterized by omissions or structural reduction but rather by an attempt at elaborating one’s interlanguage system. Indeed. Moreover. although clearly not all instances of either restrictive or elaborative simplification involve transfer (see. and not all instances of transfer involve simplification. or elaborative simplification (for additional evidence of transfer in learners’ prepositional overgeneralizations. its occurrence is greatly increased when the two processes interact.
these particles normally occur either preverbally or postnominally and are rarely used to express directionality (Ball. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Beite. On the other hand. visible morphology is untenable. (Received 4 November 1999) NOTES 1. We should also note that our findings are compatible with the Transfer to Somewhere principle of Andersen (1983). Selinker (Eds. Amsterdam: Benjamins. (1971). Swedish grammar. Ball. Prototype and second language acquisition. 3. In S. The fact that different learners choose different prepositions is also significant. Comrie. visible morphology from the NL. Applique . Cantonese made easy. they are prone to overlooking inflectional information equivalent to prepositions in the L2.. Revue de Phone ´ tique ´ e. R. 95–97.554 Scott Jarvis and Terence Odlin semantic choices a learner makes. Finland Swedes prefer not to be referred to as Swedish-speaking Finns. 2. 1987). negative in the case of the former and positive in the case of the latter. (Eds. as when some Finns choose to write sit to the grass whereas others choose sit on the grass.. 131–135.. Both choices reflect transfer. October 28. noting that even his claim concerning overt.). Correa-Beningfield. (1997). the L1 sometimes offers more than one hypothesis when learners look to it for help in acquiring an L2. The acquisition of English. & Carroll. REFERENCES Andersen. The One-to-One Principle of interlanguage construction. Cantonese does have a special class of verb particles that function similarly to English spatial prepositions. In Japanese.. D. Eubank (personal communication. Gass & L. Carroll. which are equivalent semantically but not formally to English prepositions. e. Becker. It might be tempting to say that the morphological coding is irrelevant and that only the semantics matters. 177–204).” We prefer to let his published words speak for themselves. Englund. On the one hand. (1983). Higelin. (1981). 34. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell. A. S. Transfer to somewhere. the absence of zero prepositions in the narratives of the Swedes suggests positive transfer from one prepositional language to another. Rowley. M. 1971). N. Ringbom. What is especially significant here is that cross-linguistic influence is not monolithic. however. Andersen. B. Language transfer in language learning (pp. A. 77–95. Language Learning. the zero prepositions of the Finns suggest that the difference of morphological type disposes them to overlook the semantic information of Finnish inflections. That inference would be mistaken. 4. given that the performance of the Finns indicates that when speakers of an agglutinative language such as Finnish make interlingual identifications with a language such as English.. M. (1984).). In other words. J. The acquisition of spatial relations in a second language (pp.g. The acquisition of spatial relations in a second language.-M. 35–78). we return briefly to this issue in the following section of the paper. New York: Cambridge University Press. although they are natives of Finland whose L1 is Swedish (see. Becker & M. (1990).). Carroll (Eds. M. MA: Newbury House. In A. R. such instances of zero prepositions are related to the structural contrast between Finnish and English. spatial relations are expressed through postpositions (Kuno. The languages of the Soviet Union. 1998) stated that his claims should be understood to refer only to the nontransferability of “overt. Taipei. (1963). (1997). & Hildeman. Although such omissions might seem to be no more than simplification.-G. R. however. Taiwan: Ch’eng Wen. 1978). M. G.
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