Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10497/22829
Title: 
Authors: 
Supervisor: 
Xavier, Christine Anita
Issue Date: 
2020
Abstract: 
To test the hypothesis that the argument structure constructions contribute to semantic interpretation and understanding of the sentence construct, Bencini and Goldberg (2000) conducted an empirical study they drew from Healy and Miller’s (1970) research. Bencini and Goldberg (2000) included an extension to Healy and Miller’s (1970) experiment by incorporating an additional variable - the construction syntactic form. Along with the adopted methodology from Healy and Miller’s (1970) study, Bencini and Goldberg created 16 sentences using four verbs: get, slice, take and throw, and crossing them with four types of argument structure constructions: Transitive, Ditransitive, Caused-Motion and Resultative. The sentences, according to overall sentence meaning, had to be sorted into four equal groups of four. The results confirmed the hypothesis that the sorting of sentences was based on the argument structure construction of the sentences which contributed to the meaning.

However, the experiment did not conjecture if L2 English language speakers of the English language afforded similar results. To accommodate this gap in findings, a seminal experiment by Gries and Wulff (2005) was conducted to test the Bencini and Goldberg hypothesis. Gries and Wulff’s (2005) experiment strongly suggests that the foreign language learners, instead of applying the verb-based sorting, tended to favour more meaning-based sorting.

Bencini and Goldberg (2000) and Gries and Wulff’s (2005) work on Construction Grammar with L1 and L2 speakers of the English language motivated further investigation into the study of the use of Construction Grammar with Singaporean English language speakers. Investigating the role of Construction Grammar in the learning and acquiring of the English language among Singaporean English language speakers will contribute to enriching this research body, especially in relation to understanding the differences in the role of Construction Grammar for the learning and acquiring of the English language as a first or second language.

The present study results show that Singaporean L1 English language speakers sorted predominantly using the verb-based sorting, that is the verb being the key contributing factor in the semantic interpretation of the sentences. On the contrary, to ascertain the meaning of the sentences, the Singaporean L2 English language speakers have a greater tendency to employ the argument structure constructions to unpack the meaning of the sentences.

Thus, types of argument structure constructions could be included in L2 English language learning materials and explicitly taught to accelerate L2 speakers’ abilities to cognize the meaning of various sentence structures. The approach would focus on establishing and emphasising appropriate connections between argumentative structure constructions and semantics when processing L2 input. The L2-driven English language instruction will not impede the L1 learners’ English language learning but complement their natural exposure to the English language to further develop abstract level of argument structure constructions.
URI: 
Issued Date: 
2020
Call Number: 
P163.5 Mah
Appears in Collections:Master of Arts (Applied Linguistics)

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