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Acquiring Causative Constructions in Japanese as a Second Language

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Abstract:

This paper discusses one aspect of learning Japanese as a second language (L2), which is how learners acquire Japanese causative constructions. Causatives are considered to be rather 'marked', because main and sub-events are merged into a single clause, and thus may be more difficult to learn. Yet, ability to use such constructions enhances expressivity and pragmatic-cultural appropriateness, and facilitates comprehension. Cross-sectional oral production data were collected from English-speaking university students of Japanese L2 for this study. Their descriptions of causative eventualities were examined and related to their L2 developmental stage. Results show that the range of choices of construction correlates with learners' stage of development and consequently (i) that there are universal constraints in L2 learning, as proposed by Processability Theory, and (ii) that Japanese L2 development follows a predictable route. Results entail implications for accurate, efficient communication as well as for Japanese L2 learning and teaching.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10371390903066657

Affiliations: University of Western Sydney, Australia

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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