National Kaohsiung Normal University, Taiwan
This research aims to scrutinize the acquisition of English complementizers (comps) by Chinese EFL learners, whose L1 does not have overt comps. Two questionnaires were designed and 73 English majors from a national university in Southern Taiwan were invited to participate in this experiment. Responses to Questionnaire One comprising 20 sentences of canonical structures showed that all five comps were acquired well except for the comp for. Responses to Questionnaire Two consisting of 39 sentences of noncanonical structures showed an opposite result that no comps were acquired except for that by High group participants. It was found the grammatical features of [finite] and [WH] in English comps and their compatibility with the matrix verb were not fully mastered by Chinese EFL learners because structural alternations in comp usage often confused them. The grammatical function of case assignment of English comps was not acquired. Further, Chinese EFL learners lacked the concept that English clauses were CP in structure and hence invariably dropped or misused the semantic-empty comp when the clause was dislocated to noncanonical positions. The results of this study support the Functional Module of Full Transfer Partial Access Hypothesis.
Key Words: complementizer, interlanguage, functional category, noncanonical structure