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Master of Arts (M.A.)
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Chinese measure words are bound morphemes that can classify nouns/verbs and form a determinative-measure-word compound with numeral, demonstrative, or specifying determinatives. Dr. Yuanren Chao distributes Chinese measure words into nine categories: individual measure words (Mc), individual measure words associated with verb-object construction (Mc’), group measure words (Mg), partitive measure words (Mp), container measure words (Mo), temporary measure words (Mt), standard measure words (Mm), quasi-measure words (Mq), and measure words of verbs of actions (Mv). The complicated measure word system is a big challenge for Chinese as a second language learners. This study investigates learners’ lexical, semantic, and syntactic characteristics of acquiring Chinese measure words. Learners’ and native speakers’ spoken and written language data are extracted from three authoritative Chinese learners corpora and three authoritative native speaker corpora. Corpus linguistic methods are used in this study. To explore the three linguistic features, this study conducts quantitative and qualitative analyses. The quantitative analysis explores learners’ lexical diversity, sophistication, and accuracy. The findings reveal that learners’ lexical diversity of using measure words is lower than native speakers and English-speaking learners’ is lower than non-English-speaking learners’. Learners’ lexical sophistication of using measure words did not grow with proficiency levels and therefore cannot predict or indicate learners’ language proficiency levels. Likewise, learners’ lexical accuracy of using measure words vary from category to category. Advanced learners have lower accuracy than beginner and intermediate learners, and English-speaking learners are lower than non-English-speaking learners. The qualitative analysis examines learners’ semantic and syntactic behaviors with two case studies. The first case study analyzes nine specific measure words that belong to multiple categories that can reflect learners’ semantic expressions of word choices. The second case study dissects the syntactic structures of ge ‘an individual,’ zhong ‘kinds, species,’ and xie ‘some’ (they are the three most frequent measure words used by learners) and explores learners’ co-selection of determinatives, measure words, and nouns. The results of the first case study show that learners’ semantic expressions are not controlled by the frequency of semantic categories but are likely affected by a topic/genre. The second case study indicates that learners tend to overuse or underuse special grammar patterns without understanding correct usage. The whole study aims to bring attention to Chinese measure words in second language teaching and corpus linguistic methods as teaching and research tools. It will help second language teachers and linguists to gain a deeper understanding of how learners would grasp a classification system and their linguistic characteristics of acquisition. Keywords: corpus linguistics, Chinese measure words, second language acquisition
Feng, Yutong, "Acquisition of Chinese Measure Words by Chinese as Second Language Learners: A Corpus-based Study of Lexical, Semantic, and Syntactic Characteristics" (2023). Masters Theses. 1311.