A Generative Analysis of the Acquisition of Negation by Iranian EFL Learners: A Typological Study

Document Type: Research Article

Authors

1 Ilam University

2 Ilam University,

Abstract

The present study was an attempt to investigate the acquisition of negation
properties by Persian monolingual and Kurdish-Persian bilingual learners of English
across different levels of language proficiency and within a generative framework.
Generative models are generally concerned with issues such as universal grammar
(UG), language transfer, and morphological variability in nonprimary language
development. Hence, an attempt was made to test the claims and predictions made
by a number of generative theories specifically FTFA, RDH, DA, MSIH, SSH, and
MSBH. To do so, 180 Persian monolingual and Kurdish-Persian bilingual learners
of English participated in the study. Based on the Oxford Placement Test, they were
assigned to 3 levels of language proficiency. They, then, received a grammaticality
judgment test and a translation task. The results revealed that there was, first, no
significant difference between the performance of the monolingual and bilingual
learners at each level of language proficiency, whereas the difference was
statistically significant across the levels of proficiency, and second, no single
generative theory can offer a comprehensive explanation about the whole process of
L2-L3 negation acquisition. Indeed, language development occurs in an incremental
manner as predicted by MSBH, and the resetting of TL properties is possible with
increasing level of proficiency. The findings also confirmed that knowledge of an
L2 does not play a significant role in the development of the interlanguage
grammars of Kurdish-Persian bilinguals, and increased L2/L3 exposure and use lead
to less language transfer and consequently approximation to native-like
performance. Each of these findings has been discussed in the framework of the
related theories tested in the study.

Keywords