IS IT DIFFICULT TO ACQUIRE SUBJACENCY AND THE ECP
Chun-yin Doris Chen and Hsin-yi Candy Huang
This paper aims to examine English- and Japanese-speaking adult learners’ acquisition of Subjacency and the Empty Category Principle (ECP) (Chomsky 1981, 1986) in Chinese. The participants were forty intermediate foreign students of the Mandarin Training Center of Nation Taiwan Normal University: half were native English speakers and half Japanese. In addition, there were twenty native controls. Two tasks (i.e., a preference task and an ordering task) were designed on the basis of the following properties concerning Subjacency and the ECP: wh-island constraints, complex NP constraints, sentential subject constraints, that-trace effects and subject/object asymmetries, and superiority L2 learners carried their L1 knowledge to acquire Subjacency and the ECP, suggesting the L1 influence is not significant. Furthermore, it was found that the Japanese speakers did not perform significantly better than the English speakers. This shows that Universal Grammar is still available, since our participants have reset their L1 parameters to proper L2 values. In addition, among these features our participants did less well on non-superiority, and the native controls rejected island violations more strongly than either group of L2 participants. Finally, Subjacency and the ECP were found equally easy for our participants to acquire.