Harbinglish: L1 Influence on the Learning of English by High School Students in Harbin, China
Keywords: influence of L1; the learning of English; native language; second language acquisition; English proficiency
Yuxiu Hu and Adams B. Bodomo
University of Hong Kong
Yuxiu HU is currently a postgraduate student of Linguistics at the University of Hong Kong. Her main research interests are in Second Language Acquisition and Syntax. She received her M.A degree in Linguistics from the University of Hong Kong, and holds a B.A degree in English Education. She once served as an English teacher in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province of China.
Adams B. BODOMO is Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Hong Kong. He does research on the syntactic and semantic structures of a wide range of languages, including English, French, Norwegian, Twi, Dagaare, Zhuang and comparative studies of Chinese and these languages. He has published many books and articles on syntax and semantics.
That L1 transfer is a common feature of L2 acquisition has been widely attested in the literature of language acquisition (e.g. Lado, 1957; Selinker, 1972; Ellis, 1994). In some studies, however, it has been suggested that L1 transfer may be extremely restricted in L2 acquisition (e.g. Eubank, 1994; Vainikka & Young-Scholten, 1994). In contrast to this suggestion, this paper reports on a study investigating the important role of L1 in L2 acquisition with new data in a new environment, thus addressing an important debate with new perspectives. Harbinglish in this study refers to ungrammatical or at least deviant English sentences made by students from Harbin in the Heilongjiang province of China. In designating the corpus of English produced by Harbin learners of English as Harbinglish, we don t mean that these errors can only be found in Harbin but that these are peculiar and rampant in Harbin and related environments. Error Analysis of data and Contrastive Analysis between English and Mandarin are used to test the research hypotheses. The grammar model of Lexical-Functional Grammar (LFG) has been used for the syntactic analysis, another new perspective to addressing an old but persistent problem in the literature on language acquisition.