Second language acquisition of English articles feature-based analysis
Salman, Hasan Ali Hasan
PublisherUniversity of Bahrain
Morphological variability in generative second language acquisition has been a controversial debate among researchers in recent years. This thesis investigates the reasons for morphological variability in relation to the acquisition of the English articles by Bahraini Arabic speakers. Following the Feature Reassembly Approach (Lardiere, 2005), it examines how the features associated with the English and Arabic articles can affect their acquisition. The feature re- assembly hypothesis claims that second language challenges result not from the simple metaphor of resetting parameters but from a failure in feature reassembly. It assumes that it is the reconfiguration of features from the way they are assembled in the native language into new formal configurations in the target language that causes variation among non-native speakers. It is well established in the related literature that the L2 acquisition of the English article system poses learnability difficulties for Arab learners due to the different functions of this area in both languages. In this study, the researcher focuses on how the article system functions in English and Arabic, the similarities across the two languages and the possible sources of variability for Bahraini learners in using this linguistic aspect. This is achieved through collecting data using two of the most commonly used measures in formal models, i.e. two elicitation tasks which include a grammaticality judgement test and a translation test. The study includes three groups; a group of 26 freshman Bahraini learners of English from University of Bahrain, a group of 26 fourth-year Bahraini learners of English and a control group comprising 10 English native speakers. The researcher found the results to conform with the predictions of the FRH: the source of problems Bahraini L2 learners encounter is not so much acquiring new features as reconfiguring the existing features from their L1 into new different lexical items in the L2.