Second language acquisition of temporality and passive voice
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Using as data the writings produced by a Chinese child learning English in mainstream classroom in the United States during the age of 11;11 - 13;11, this project investigated this particular child’s acquisition of English temporality and passive voice constructions. Two research approaches are adopted. Employing form-to-function approach, it replicated the Aspect Hypothesis, studied the extent to which he used verbal inflections to encode tense, grammatical aspect, and explored the functions of the various passive structures that he used. Using function-to-form approach, this project revealed the various morphosyntactic means he used to encode simple present/past tense, present/past future tense, present/past progressive aspect, present/past perfect aspect, simple present/past passive voice, present/past future passive voice, present/past progressive passive voice, and present/past perfect passive voice. For each of these functions, the general developmental trend was described and the non-target forms were investigated. In terms of the functions of the four verbal inflections, this project reached the following conclusions. First, "-zero" was unrevealing at lower stages but was used to satisfy the syntactic/tense/aspect requirements at higher stages. Second, "-s" was more bound to the number of the sentence subject than to grammatical tense/aspect or lexical aspect. Third, "-ing" was influenced by lexical aspect before this subject became very proficient in this language. Finally "-past" was mainly used to mark tense, grammatical aspect, and other syntactical requirements. In terms of the forms that this child used to encode the grammatical functions, this project arrived at the following conclusions. First, he used uninflected forms to encode many tense/aspect/passive functions. Second, he often misused the present tense/aspect/voice structures for their past counterparts or the other way around. Third, he was more confused by tense differentiations than by those of aspect/voice. Finally, the varieties and the amount of non-target forms are related to the degree of semantic/syntactic complexities, the possible lack of explicit explanations and intensified drills, and the possible interference of his mother tongue.