Seminar Paper, 2008, 43 Pages
2.1. Introduction and theoretical background We concerned ourselves with theories and studies that dealt with the issue of language transfer. Afterwards we felt disposed to conduct this study on language transfer. Both the study by Bohnacker (2006) and the study by Hakkonson, Gisela, Pienemann, Manfred & Sayehli, Susan (2002) were decisive factors for the design of this study. Hakkonson et al. examined cross linguistic influences in their study “Transfer and typological proximity in the context of second language processing”. The results showed that Swedish learners of German do not transfer the syntactic feature V2 to German from their L1. On account of the fact that the participants did not start off with V2 structures in German, Hakkonson, et al. assume that no transfer took place. The acquisition of German developed along certain stages instead. The developmental stages are believed to be predicted by the processability hierarchy according to the processability Theory (Pienemann, 1998). However,
the study was criticised because the participants were L2 speakers of English and L3 speakers of German. English is a non-V2 language. Thus a transfer from English to German could not be denied. However, Hakkonson et al. refuse this option termed “English illness” in their study. Four years later Bohnacker (2006) conducted another study “When Swedes begin to learn German”. She took “English illness” into consideration, since she divided the participants into two groups. On the one hand L1 speakers of Swedish and L2 of German and on the other hand L1 speakers of Swedish, L2 speakers of English and L3 speakers of German. The results showed that participants do transfer the V2-syntax from their L1. If, however, their L2 is a non-V2 language like English, the transfer might be obscured. The current study is similar to the study by Bohnacker (2006). It is structured as follows; in section 2 we will outline theoretical approaches to language transfer and introduce the hypothesis of the current study. Section 3 deals with the survey in general comprising procedure, method, participants and linguistic analysis of exemplary sentences from the questionnaire. In the next section the results will be presented. The interpretation of the results in regard to the hypothesis is the subject of section 5. In the following we refer to possible rationales behind the results. In addition, we give suggestions for improvements in efficiency of this study. Section 7 contains further information about both the questionnaires and the participants.
We were especially enthused by the above-mentioned studies conducted by Bohnacker (2006) and Hakkonson, et al. (2002). The inspiration for this study is based on own experiences as well. On previous vacations we spent time with our relatives in Turkey. We noticed that their English was often inaccurate. It seemed that they made word-by-word translations from Turkish into English. Relating to the acquisition of English, our knowledge of German is probably of benefit to us. As German and English share regularities in terms of vocabulary, word-order etc. speakers of German might enjoy the advantage of language transfer. Yet, these thoughts are not grounded on substantiated data
but on assumptions. On account of previous research as well as own experiences, we formulated our hypothesis as the following:
In order to lean towards the term “English illness” introduced by Hakkanson, et al., German is supposed to function as “German illness” but with a positive effect on speakers of German.
To test our hypothesis we constructed a questionnaire with 25 Turkish sentences that had to be translated into English within 30 minutes. Besides the translation task the participants were to fill out a background questionnaire including questions about their age, gender, language skills and time spent abroad. The complete questionnaire is given in appendix A and B in section 8.
A total of 20 Turkish students participated in this survey. Half of the data was collected in Germany from Turkish students at the age of 14-15 attending the “Gymnasium” in class eight. They are L1 speakers of Turkish, L2 speakers of German and L3 speakers of English. In Germany, the study was conducted in “Türkisch-Deutscher Bildungsverein Mannheim e.V.” In the following this group is termed “German-Turks.”
The other ten students live in Turkey and are attending the eighth class of 1 “Ilk-Öğretim” in Denizli, Turkey. Their L1 is Turkish and L2 is English. They will be called “Turkish-Turks,” throughout this paper. Both countries involved
1 After the reform of the Turkish school system “Ilk okul” and “orta okul” were joined to
“Ilk ögretim okulu”. Students attend “Ilk ögretim okulu” for 8 years. At the end of the last term
students have to sit an exam called “Ortaöğretim Kurumları Öğrenci Seçme ve Yerleştirme
Sınavı”, which is abbreviated to ÖKS. The results achieved at ÖKS determine which “lise” the
students are allowed to study at, since there are different types of “lises”. Students spend 4
years at “lise” regardless of which “lise” they are attending. After 4 years at lise students have to
take another exam named “Öğrenci seçme ve yerleştirme sınavını” shortened to “ÖSS”. The
results of “ÖSS” and the type of the attended “lise” together determine both future subject and
university of the students. Universities differ in duration of study, which is either 2 or 4 years.
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