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The Journal of English Language and Literature , Vol.57, No.6, 1017 ~ 1042, 2011
Information Structure and the Use of the English Existential Construction in Korean Learner English
Han Jung Lee
This study investigates Korean EFL learners` awareness and use of the English existential there-construction by examining data collected from 54 Korean EFL learners of English by means of a pragmalinguistic judgment task and a controlled discourse completion task. The results of the judgment task reveal that lower proficiency learners rated canonical sentences and existentials with a preposed locative best in the communicative situations where the use of existentials would have been most appropriate. A comparison of the ratings by more proficient learners and native speakers shows that existentials received highest ratings by both groups where they are the most natural option, while canonical sentences received significantly higher ratings by the learners. With regard to the production data, learners tended to avoid existentials, but rather relied on canonical sentences. Existentials were rarely used by lower proficiency learners and not used productively even by more proficient learners in the situations where existentials would have been the most natural option. These results suggest that Korean learners` difficulty with the use of existentials is not merely a product of performance limitations, but attributable to limited knowledge about existentials and their syntactic alternatives in terms of contextual appropriateness. Lower proficiency learners lack such knowledge, and more proficient learners, while showing better awareness of the use of existentials, have problems as to the placement of new information when engaging in writing tasks that place lower level of demands on attention to the information status of noun phrases compared to communicative, oral tasks.
Key Words
information structure, English existential there-construction, new information, form-function mapping, typological transfer,영미문학, 문화연구, 비교문학, 비평이론, English and American Literature, cultural studies, comparative literature, critical theory
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