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Acquisition of the local binding characteristics of English reflexives and the obligatory status of English objects by Chinese-speaking learners

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Abstract

This study investigates whether Chinese speakers can acquire the local binding characteristics of English reflexives and the obligatory status of English objects. Chinese allows both the long-distance (LD) and the local binding of reflexives, whereas English only allows the local binding of reflexives. Similarly, Chinese allows both overt and null objects, whereas English only allows overt objects. Even though the two properties involve different types of antecedent-anaphora and operator-variable binding relations, both of them are likely to cause poverty of stimulus for Chinese learners of English. The results of the experiment suggest that the learners’ interpretation of binding of reflexives is more or less native-like because of the availability of the triggering data but the obligatory status of English objects is not acquirable because of the lack of the relevant triggering data.

References

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