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Research Seminar "Acquisition of Anaphoric Expressions by JFL learners"
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Topic:  Research Seminar "Acquisition of Anaphoric Expressions by JFL learners"
posted itemPosted - 17/08/2009 :  15:58:02
City University of Hong Kong Dep

Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics

Research Seminars

Acquisition of Anaphoric Expressions by JFL learners

Presented by

Prof. Mineharu Nakayama

The Ohio State University, U.S.A.

Date: 7 September 2009 (Monday)
Time: 4:30 – 6:00pm
B7603 (Lift 3, 7/F, Blue Zone), Academic Building, CityU


This talk discusses the interpretations of Japanese anaphoric expressions, in particular, zibun, zibun-tachi, and overt pronouns (kare/kanojo) by English speaking learners of Japanese as a foreign language (JFL). It is a well-known fact that zibun and zibun-tachi can have the bound variable reading, but overt pronouns such as kare/kanojo cannot. Since this is not explicitly taught in Japanese language classes, how do JFL learners learn this? How do they interpret these anaphoric expressions? Do they transfer their knowledge in English? According to the results of three experiments with a truth-value judgment task (Kano & Nakayama 2004, Nakayama & Kano 2007, and Masumoto & Nakayama 2009), JFL learners of all three different levels could take zibun with the bound variable readings while rejecting the coreference readings almost perfectly, but they did have difficulty in rejecting the bound variable readings with kare/kanojo, though their correct rejection rates increased gradually by proficiency level (cf. Kanno 1997). I will argue that JFL learners decide which anaphoric expressions can have the bound variable reading by experience and a referential hierarchy in the inventory of the anaphoric expressions (e.g., a less referential expression is more likely to obtain the bound variable reading). When the learners learn both zibun and kare/kanojo, they recognize that kare/kanojo are more designative (i.e., with [+gender]) than zibun, and thus, rejecting the bound variable readings. In other words, they transfer their L1 knowledge when they don't have an inventory of anaphoric expressions in Japanese. If this analysis is correct, either the Overt Pronoun Constraint (Montalbetti 1984) is not operative or the OPC is not necessary.


Professor Nakayama is a professor of Japanese linguistics at the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures, The Ohio State University, U.S.A. He received his Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Connecticut. His research specialty lies in Japanese psycholinguistics, such as language acquisition and processing, and syntax.

He has published a number of articles and books in those areas as well as Japanese pragmatics and teaching Japanese as a foreign language. His recent notable co-edited volume with Mazuka and Shirai is the Handbook of East Asian Psycholinguistics vol. 2: Japanese from Cambridge University Press. Recently, he has been working on L2 Japanese by American learners and L2 English by Japanese learners. Especially, the latter is the collaboration work with his Japanese colleague at the University of Shizuoka, where he also holds a title of visiting professor.

He has also held a number of administrative positions at the department, the institute (Institute for Japanese Studies) and, the center (East Asian Studies Center) at Ohio State. He has created study abroad programs both in Japan and the US, serving as the resident and the program directors. He was an ACTFL oral proficiency tester, and has been a National Consortium for Teaching about Asia Ohio advisor and a board member of linguistic societies and journals. He is currently the editor of the Journal of Japanese Linguistics.

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