Volume 149, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0019-0829
  • E-ISSN: 1783-1490
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes


The present study focuses on spoken and written data in the British National Corpus (BNC). Based on a review of recent studies on English relative clauses, we formulated a Universal Processing Hypothesis (OS >OO>SS> SO) as target hypothesis to be validated using a corpus data approach. A computer program was designed to calculate the frequency of appearance of the four types of relative clauses (OS, OO, SS, and SO). The results indicated this hypothesis to be a valid predictor of frequency of appearance of relative clauses in the domain for written corpus texts. However, it is not supported in context-governed spoken material. Limitations of the present investigation and the direction of future research are also discussed.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Aart, F. & Schils, E.
    (1995) Relative Clauses, the Accessibility Hierarchy, and the Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis. International Review of Applied Linguistics, 33, 47–63.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Bybee, J. & Hopper, P.
    (Eds.) (2001) Frequency and the emergence of linguistic structure. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Correa, L. M. S.
    (1995) An alternative assessment of children’s comprehension of relative clauses. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 24,183–203.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Dryer, M. S.
    (1992) The Greenbergian word order correlations. Language, 68,81–139.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Eckman, F. , Bell, L. & Nelson, D.
    (1988) On the generalization of relative clause instruction in the acquisition of English as a second language. Applied Linguistics, 9,1–20.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Gass, S.
    (1980) An investigation of systematic transfer in adult second language learners. In R. C. Scarcella & S. D. Krashen (Eds.), Research in second language acquisition (pp.132–141). Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Hawkins, J. A.
    (1994) A performance theory of order and constituency. Cambridge Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Humanities Computing Unit of Oxford University
    Humanities Computing Unit of Oxford University (2000) British National Corpus World Edition. Oxford: Humanities Computing Unit of Oxford University.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Hyltenstam, K.
    (1984) The use of typological markedness conditions as predictors in second language acquisition: The case of pronominal copies in relative clauses. In R. Anderson (Ed.), Second language: A cross linguistic perspective (pp.39–58). Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Ito, A.
    (2001) Japanese EFL learners’ processing in English relativlzation. Review of Applied Linguistics, 133 & 134,325–345.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Kawauchi, C.
    (1988) Universal processing of relative clauses by adult learners of English. JACET Bulletin, 19, 19–36.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Keenan, E.
    (1975) Variation in universal grammar. In E. Fasold & R. Shuy (Eds.), Analyzing variation in language (pp.136–149). Washington: Georgetown University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Keenan, E.L. & Comrie, B.
    (1977) Noun phrase accessibility and universal grammar. Linguistic Inquiry, 8, 63–99.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Kuno, S.
    (1974) The position of relative clause and cognition. Linguistic Inquiry, 5,117–136.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Ohba, H.
    (1995) The learning order of English relative clauses by Japanese senior high school students in an instruction-only environment. Journal of Health SciencesUniversity of Hokkaido, 21, 19–35.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Romaine, S.
    (1984) The language of children and adolescents: The acquisition of communicative competence. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Sadighi, F.
    (1994) The acquisition of English relative clauses by Chinese, Japanese and Korean adult native speakers. International Review of Applied Linguistics, 32,141–153.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Sheldon, A.
    (1974) The role of parallel function in the acquisition of relative clauses in English. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 3,272–281.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Shumann, J. H.
    (1980) Acquisition of English relative clauses by second language learners. In R. Scarcella & S. Krashen (Eds.), Research In second language acquisistion (pp.119–131). Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Slobin, D. I.
    (1973) Cognitive prerequisites forthe development of grammar. In C. A. Furgason & D. Slobin (Eds.), Studies of child language development (pp.175–208). New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. SPSS Windows 7.5 version
    SPSS Windows 7.5 version (1996) Chicago, IL. SPSS Inc.
  22. Takashima, H.
    (2000) Another look at the order of difficulty of relative clauses from corpus linguistics—Statistical procedures, analysis and results. International Review of Applied Linguistics, 38,313–329.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Yamashita, J.
    (1994) An analysis of relative clauses in the Lancaster/IBM spoken English corpus. English Studies, 75,73–84.
    [Google Scholar]
  • Article Type: Research Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error