Non-permanent representational deficit and apparent target-likeness in second language: Evidence from wh-words used as universal quantifiers in English and Japanese speakers' L2 Chinese

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This paper reports on an empirical study examining L2 acquisition of Chinese wh-words used as universal quantifiers (UQs) by Japanese- and Englishspeaking learners. Results from a sentence acceptability judgment test and a sentence interpretation test indicate that wh-words can be acquired as UQs in English and Japanese speakers’ L2 Chinese grammars. However, the acquisition takes place rather late and there is evidence for representational deficit in beginner, intermediate and post-intermediate Japanese learners’ L2 Chinese grammars, i.e., wh-words in subject position can have target-like behaviours, but those in object position cannot. We argue that the underlying L2 Chinese representations in these learners’ L2 Chinese grammars are still divergent from that of the native Chinese grammar in spite of some apparently native-like behaviours.


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