Volume 5, Issue 3
  • ISSN 1879-9264
  • E-ISSN: 1879-9272
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This study is concerned with native Japanese speakers’ acquisition of English lexical causativity. In Japanese, a large number of verbs, including those not participating in the causative alternation in English (e.g., kieru/kesu “disappear/be disappeared” and todoku/todokeru “deliver/be delivered”), are lexically causative, in addition to the prototypical causative verbs such as aku/akeru “open” and ugoku/ugokasu “move”. This asymmetric relationship forms a gap between the L1 and L2 and will cause overgeneralization errors in the L2 utterances. In this study, 44 native speakers of English and 60 Japanese ESL learners participated in the grammaticality judgment tasks in a series of experiments. The data show that the negative transfer exists in the inherently-directed motion verbs and verbs of disappearance, but it is conditioned by the frequency of verbs. The existence of frequency effect on verbs in the asymmetric relationship indicates that certain classes of verbs must be learned from the input.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Japanese; lexical causative; syntax-semantic interface
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