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The L3 acquisition of English tense-aspect system by Uygur speakers with L2 Mandarin Chinese

Qianping Gu, Muradil Adil

Article ID: 1459
Vol 4, Issue 1, 2022, Article identifier:116-131

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This paper examines the role of Lexical Aspect Hypothesis (LAH) and linguistic typological similarity in the L3 acquisition of English tense and aspect among Uygur speakers with L2 Mandarin Chinese (Chinese hereafter). LAH asserts that the emerging verbal inflections at the early stage of language acquisition primarily function as markers of the lexical aspect and thus predicts universality for acquisition of tense and aspect. However, with an assumption of language transfer, the typological closer relationship of Uygur with English in terms of the tense and aspect system was expected to trigger L1 transfer in L3 acquisition. The study analyzed the English tense and aspect forms used by the participants (N = 25) for verbs of four distinct lexical aspects (50 target items) in contexts of past. The result shows that the lexical aspect influences the appropriate use of past tense—past tense marker aligned with telic predicates (achievements and accomplishments), -ing with activities (for inappropriate uses), and nonpast with states (for inappropriate uses), and the influence is observed at each proficiency level. The results show little evidence for language transfer in the acquisition of the English past tense, either from L1 Uygur or L2 Chinese; instead, the data suggest that L3 acquisition of tense and aspect is more subject to acquisitional universality (LAH).


tense-aspect; Lexical Aspect Hypothesis; L3 acquisition; language

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