‚Q‚RDCross-linguistic Knowledge in L2 Mental Lexicon

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1.  Meikai EFL learners and Cross-linguistic Influence
@One day several years ago, one of my male students said to me, gPlease have a nice summer vacation, Professor Yamagishi.h Immediately I noticed that the use of the adverb gpleaseh here was a direct translation of the Japanese word gdoozoh and what he really wanted to say was, gI hope you (will) have a nice summer vacation, Professor Yamagishi.h Undoubtedly the adverb gpleaseh was used to express his wish, not his request, that I would have a nice summer vacation. I know from my own experience that Japanese EFL learners make this error very often.

Since then I have been attentive to how my Meikai EFL students translate the adverb gdoozoh into English and my feeling that they would strongly be influenced by their native language unless they have sufficient cross-linguistic knowledge has gradually changed to a conviction. When they lack this knowledge, they are susceptible to an error or inappropriate form in the target language.

Taking this opportunity to work with my colleagues for this workshop, I assigned my students a translation task so that I would be able to test their cross-linguistic knowledge. Beside the word gdoozo,h mentioned above, I picked out two others words, namely gmochironh and gomoshiroi.h They are three of the words my students mistranslate the most.

1.1 Assigned Translation Task  
  A couple of months ago, during the early stages of preparing for todayfs workshop, I assigned 94 Meikai students a cross-linguistic test so that I would be able to assess the EFL learnersf cross-linguistic knowledge. And the test results came up to my expectations: there is a significant difference between low- and high-TOEFL- ITP proficiency groups (See below). Later on, I will discuss the details of the test.

Table 1

@     Class

   No. of  Examinees

TOEFL-ITP Class Average   

      @1- B

19

333.3

        @1-G

25

378.9

        @1- I

25

403.9

        @1- J

25

437.5

@@Total 94

Japanese Sentences to be translated into English

(The words to be tested their appropriateness or suitability are underlined.)

 1

(offering a chair to a guest) Doozo osuwari kudasai.

 2

gKono enpitsu karite ii?hgDoozo.h

 3

gEnpitsu arimsuka?hgHai, doozo.h

 4

gKonoseki, fusagatte imasuka?hgIie, doozo.h

 5

(In a theater, asking someone to move so that you can get past) gSumimasen.hgDoozo.h

 6

(Introducing a singer) Soredewa, Ishikawa Sayuri-san, doozo! g

 7

gJishoo okarishite iidesuka?hgMochiron, iidesuyo.h

 8

gOnakawa suite naidaroone.hgMochiron, suitenaiyo.h

 9

gOkkusufoodo to Kenburriji, docchiwo ooen suruno?hgMochiron, Kenburijji dayo.h

10

Sono myuujishian wa nihon wa mochiron, yooroppademo yuumeida.

11

Chichiwa uisuikiiwa mochiron, biirumo nomanai.

12

Kono monogatariwatotemo omoshiroi.

13

Sakkaawa omoshiroi.

14

Nyuuyooku wa omoshiroi machida

15

Kanojowa yoku omoshiroi joodanwoiu.

2. Cross-linguistic Knowledge Test and TOEFL-ITP Proficiency Levels
@One of the main difficulties in learning a new language is caused by interference from the first language or the mother tongue. I will show one concrete example. In a comparatively early stage of English learning, Japanese learners connect the Japanese words gdoozo,hgmochironh andgomoshiroihclosely with the English words gplease,hgof courseh and ginteresting,hand the connections are so strong they remain imprinted on their memory. To corroborate this statement I gave 94 Meikai University freshman English majors a translation task, the answers and results of which are as follows:

Q.

                           Answers

 1

Please sit down. / Sit down please. / Do sit down. / (Please) Have a seat. / iPlease ) Take a seat. / Sit down.

 2

gCan I use this pencil?hgYes, sure. / Sure. / Go ahead. / Yes, of course. / Of course. / Yes, certainly. / Yes, help yourself.h

 3

gDo you have a pen I can use?hgYes [Sure]. Here you are.h

 4

gIs this seat taken?hgNo, help yourself.h

 5

gExcuse me, please.hgCertainly. / Sure. (Go ahead.) / Go ahead. / OK.h

 6

Ladies and gentlemen, we present Sayuri Ishikawa.

 7

gMay I use your dictionary?hg(Yes,) Certainly. / (Yes,) Of course. / Sure, go ahead.h

 8

gYoufre not hungry.hgNo, Ifm not. / No, thanks. / Of course not.h

 9

gWhich team will you root for, Oxford or Cambridge?hgDefinitely, Cambridge. / Of course, Cambridge. / Cambridge, of course.h

10

That musician is well known not only in Japan but (also) in Europe.

11

My father never drinks beer, not to mention whisky.

12

This story is very interesting [amusing].

13

Soccer [Football] is a lot of fun [enjoyable / exciting].

14

New York is a fascinating [interesting / exciting / attractive] city.

15

She often makes a funny joke.

Class 1-B (TOEFL-ITP Class Average 333.3 points)

Q.

Corr. Ans. (%)

 1

    68.42 %

Six out of nineteen students (31.57%) were not able to use any of the answers shown above.    

 2

    57.89

Four students (21.05%) answeredgHere you are,hwhich is not appropriate here.

 3

    57.89

Two students answered with gPlease,hwhich is not appropriate here.

 4

        0

No one answered correctly. Examples of the incorrect answers were, gCome here [on].hgPlease.hgSit here.hgNo problem.hgNo. Letfs sit here.h

 5

    15.78

Only three answered correctly. Among the incorrect answers weregYoufre welcome,handgCross me.h

 6

        0

No one answered correctly. This phrase is unfamiliar to Japanese learners.

 7

    78.94

Many answered withgof course.h They do not seem to know, however, this phrase may sound condescending.@

8

    21.05

Seven students answered with gOf course.h None of them, however, answered with a negative formgOf course not.hThis phrase also may sound condescending.

 9

    36.84

Seven students answered withgOf course.h Not so many could answer properly.

10

        0

No one answered correctly. They should usegnot only `but (also).h

11

        0

No one answered correctly. They should usegnot to mentionhhere.

12

    78.94

80% answered correctly; some of the students answered with gstrangehorgimportant.h

13

    26.31

Unexpectedly the percentage of correct answers was very low. Some of them answered withgGood,hand some with

gexistingh (undoubtedly they wanted to say gexciting.h).

14

    36.84

Unexpectedly a low percentage of correct answers.

15

    26.31

Also, this was hard to answer. Some answered with 

gCheers!hgnice.h

Class 1-G (TOEFL-ITP Class Average 378.9 points)

Q.

Corr. Ans. (%)

 1

   100

All the students answered correctly.

 2

    56

Five students answered with gHere you are,h two students used the phrasegHere it is,hwhich is inappropriate here.

 3

    72

One student answered with gYes, please,hwhich is inappropriate here.

 4

     8

The percentage of correct answers was low. The students answered with gNo, please sit down,hgPlease,hgNo, you can sit,hgNo, come on,hgNo, here you are,hand many other expressions, all of which are inappropriate here.

 5

    64

One student answered with gYes, please,hand another answered withgPlease.h

 6

     0

No one answered correctly.  A less familiar situation to Japanese learners.

 7

    72

Many students answered with gOf course,hgOf course, you can.hThe phrasegof coursehmay sound condescending.

 8

    56

Seven students (28%) used the phrasegOf course,hbut none of them added the negative adverbgnot.h

 9

@60

Seven students answered with gOf course.h

10

    12

Only three answered correctly. Few noticed they should use the phrasegnot only`but (also).h

11

     0

No one answered correctly. The students did not know that they should use the phrase gnot to mentionhhere.

12

    92

Most of the students answered correctly. Some used the adjectivegfunny.h

13

    76

About 80% of the students answered correctly.  Four students (16%) used the adjectiveginteresting.h

14

    72

More than 70% answered correctly.

15

    52

A little more than 50 % answered correctly. Some students used godd,hgunique,horggood.h

Class 1-I (TOEFL-ITP Class Average 403.9 points)

Q.

  Corr. Ans. (%)

 1

   100

All the students answered correctly.

 2

    88

One of the students answered withgYes, you may,h which  may sound condescending.

 3

    68

Four students answered withgYes, please,hwhich is inappropriate here. Some answered with gYes, here,hgYes, I do,hgYes, I have.h

 4

    16

The percentage of correct answers was low. Among the varied answers weregNo,hgNo, please,hgNo, it isnft,hnone of which is appropriate here.

 5

    64

Among the varied answers were gPlease,hgSorry,hgDonft worry,hgDonft mind,hgYoufre welcome.h

 6

     0

No one answered correctly. This phrase is unfamiliar to Japanese learners.

 7

    92

Ten students answered with gOf course,hfour withgYes, of course,hand two with gSure, of course.hAmong many other expressions were gSure, here you are,hgOf course, you can.h They donft seem to understand that the phrasegof coursehmay sound condescending.

 8

    72 

Five students answered with gOf course,h but none of them added the negative adverbgnoth

 9

    40

Eleven students answered with gOf course.hAmong many others weregcompletely,hgcertainly,handgabsolutely.h No one used the correct answergDefinitely.h

10

    56

A little more than half noticed that they should use the grammatical constructiongnot only `but (also).h Some used the constructiongnot as`but also,hgas well as,horgof course.h

11

     4

No one answered correctly with the phrase gnot to mention.hAn answer with thegneither`norhconstruction was included among the correct answers (4%).

12

    88

Nearly 90% answered correctly. 4 usedgfunny,hand one used gfun.h

13

    48

A little less than half answered correctly. Three used gexciting,hsix gfun,hone gfantastic,honegenjoyableh and  fourginteresting.hThe adjective ginterestingh may be suitable for games such  as chess.

14

    80

Seventeen students usedginteresting,hone usedgattractive,honegexciting,hand onegnice.hAnd two usedginteresthas an adjective and another two used the adjective ginterestedhin the meaning of ginteresting.h

15

    64

Sixteen students usedgfunny,hthreeginteresting,honegnice,hand one gunique.hSome students used other adjectives correctly.


Class 1-J (TOEFL-ITP Class Average 437.5 points)

Q.

Corr. Ans. (%)

 1

   100

All the students answered correctly.

 2

    84

Two students answered withgHere you are,hwhich is inappropriate here. One answered with gPlease.h

 3

    60

Twenty-four students answered withgYes, please,hwhich is inappropriate here.

 4

    20

Only 20 % answered correctly. 6 answered with gPlease sit down,hone with gPlease,hfour withgYou can,hthree with gNo problem.h Among many other inappropriate answers were gYou can take it,hgYou may sit down,handgHere you are.h

 5

     80

80 % answered correctly. three answered with gYes, please,hone with gDonft mind,hand one with gYoufre welcome.h

 6

      0

No one answered correctly. This situation is unfamiliar to Japanese learners.

 7

     88

Nearly 90% answered correctly. Four answered with gOf course,htwo with gOf course, sure,hone with gOf course, please,hone with gOf course, you can.h Many students answered with gOf course,h which may sound condescending.

8

     72

Only four students answered withgNo,I'm not.h

 9

@@ 64

Seventeen students answered withgOf course, Cambridge.h One usedgCertainly.h

10

     56

Fourteen students used the construction gnot only`but (also).hThe rest answered incorrectly.

11

     40

Ten students answered with the construction gneither`nor.hNo one used the intended phrasegnot to mention.h

12

    100

All the students answered correctly.

13

     80

Twelve students usedgexciting,hsevengfun,hfour ginteresting.h The adjective ginterestingh may be suitable for games such as chess.

14

     84

Five students used gexciting,hfour gunique,heleven, ginteresting.hAmong many others weregnice,hgmarvelous,hetc.

15

     88

Nearly 90% answered correctly. Some used ggood,hgunique,horgnice.h


3.  Analysis of the Cross-linguistic Knowledge Test
@ From the results of the cross-linguistic knowledge test I assigned to 94 Meikai University English major students (four classes), I can point out the following facts.

1.      (offering a chair to a guest) Doozo osuwari kudasai.
@yAcceptable AnswerszPlease sit down. / Sit down please. / Do sit down. / (Please) Have a seat. / iPlease ) Take a seat. / Sit down.
@yLinguistic FactszThe use of gpleasehin this case is quite easy for Japanese learners and this use is very often extended beyond its accepted uses: you will see examples in the following cases.

2.      gKono enpitsu karite ii?hgDoozo.h
   yAcceptable AnswerszgCan I use this pencil?hgYes, sure. / Sure. / Go ahead. / Yes, of course. / Of course. / Yes, certainly. / Yes, help yourself.h
   yLinguistic FactszTwo students answered with gPleaseh(one from Class 11-I, one from Class 1-J), another two answered with gYes, please.hione from Class 11-I, 1 from Class 1-J). The use of gpleasehin this case is a direct translation of the Japanese word gdoozo, hwhich is inappropriate in English.  Japanese learners tend to use the wordgpleasehfor the Japanese word gdoozo,h assuming that the English word and the Japanese word are the same in meaning. No one answered with the expressiongYes, help yourself.h

3.      gEnpitsu arimsuka?hgHai, doozo.h
   yAcceptable AnswerszgDo you have a pen I can use?hgYes [Sure]. Here you are.h
   yLinguistic FactszOut of 94 students, two (Class 1-B) answered withgPlease,height (4 from Class 1-I, 4 from Class 1-J) with gYes, please.hThis means, 10.6 % of the students have connected the English word gpleasehwith the Japanese wordgdoozo.h

4.      gKonoseki, fusagatte imasuka?hgIie, doozo.h
   yAcceptable AnswerszgIs this seat taken?hgNo, help yourself.h
   yLinguistic FactszOut of 94 students, 24.46% answered withgNo, please,hgPlease,hgPlease sit down,horgPlease sit here.hHere also, they connect the English wordgpleasehwith the Japanese wordgdoozo.h No one answered with the expressiongNo, help yourself.h

5.      (In a theater, asking someone to move so that you can get past) gSumimasen.hgDoozo.h
@yAcceptable AnswerszgExcuse me, please.hgCertainly. / Sure. (Go ahead.) / Go ahead. / OK.h
@yLinguistic FactszOut of 94 students, eight (8.5%) students answered with gPlease,horgYes, please.hHere also, they connect the English wordgpleasehwith the Japanese wordgdoozo.hFour students answered withgYou are welcome,hwhich is inappropriate here.

6.  (Introducing a singer) Soredewa, Ishikawa Sayuri-san, doozo!
  @ yAcceptable AnswerszLadies and gentlemen, we present Sayuri Ishikawa.
   @yLinguistic FactszNo one answered correctly. The commonest incorrect answer was gSayuri Ishikawa, please.h 30 students (31.9%) used this form. Twenty students (21.27%) answered withgCome on,hwhich is never used in English.

7. gJishoo okarishite iidesuka?hgMochiron, iidesuyo.h
 @ yAcceptable AnswerszgMay I use your dictionary?hg(Yes,) Certainly. / (Yes,) Of course. / Sure, go ahead.h
@ yLinguistic FactszSeventy-seven students (81.9%) answered correctly with acceptable forms shown above. Many of the students, however, used gOf course,hgYes, of course,hor gSure, of course.hWithout doubt, the use of the phrase gof coursehhere is the influence of the Japanese gdoozo.h No one, however, seems to understand that the phrase may sound condescending. Some of the students used gPlease use it,hor gOf course, please,hboth of which are inappropriate here.

8.  gOnakawa suite naidaroone.hgMochiron, suitenaiyo.
    @yAcceptable AnswerszgYoufre not hungry.hgNo, Ifm not. / No, thanks. / Of course not.h

    @yLinguistic FactszFifty-three students (56.38%) answered correctly: their answers, in most cases, weregOf course, not,horgNo, Ifm not (hungry).hThe phrasegOf course, nothmay sound condescending. Here also, we can notice the influence of the Japanese word gmochironhupon the English phrasegof course.hNo one answered with gNo, thanks.h

9. gOkkusufoodo to Kenburriji, docchiwo ooen suruno?hgMochiron, Kenburijji dayo.h
   @ yAcceptable AnswerszgWhich team will you root for, Oxford or Cambridge?hgDefinitely, Cambridge. / Of course, Cambridge. / Cambridge, of course.h
 @   yLinguistic FactszForty-eight students (51.06%) answered correctly. Most of them, however, used the phrase gof course.h Here also, the phrase may sound condescending. No one answered withgdefinitely.h

10.  Sono myuujishian wa nihon wa mochiron, yooroppademo yuumeida.
    yAcceptable AnswerszThat musician is well known not only in Japan but (also) in Europe.
    yLinguistic FactszThirty-one students (32.97%) answered correctly: Class 1-B, none, Class 1-G, three, Class 1-I, fourteen, and Class 1-J, fourteen.  Here we can see the correlation between the percentage of correct answers and the TOEFL-ITP scores.

11.        Chichiwa uisuikiiwa mochiron, biirumo nomanai.
    yAcceptable AnswerszMy father never drinks beer, not to mention whisky.
    yLinguistic FactszNo one answered correctly with the phrasegnot to mention.h Ten students (one from Class 1-I, ten from Class 1-J) answered with the construction gMy father drinks neither whisky nor beer.h Here we can see  the correlation between the percentage of acceptable answers and the TOEFL-ITP score. Twenty-six students (27.65%) answered with gMy father doesnft drink not only whisky but (also) beer,hand eleven students (11.7%) answered with gMy father doesnft drink neither whisky nor beer,hboth of which being inappropriate here.

12.        Kono monogatariwatotemo omoshiroi.
    yAcceptable AnswerszThis story is very interesting [amusing].
    yLinguistic FactszNinety-one students (96.80%) answered correctly with the adjectiveginteresting.hThis means that Japanese learners connect the English       adjectiveginterestinghclosely with the Japanese gomoshiroi.h No one usedgamusinghor other acceptable adjectives.

13.        Sakkaawa omoshiroi.
    yAcceptable AnswerszSoccer [Football] is a lot of fun [enjoyable / exciting].
    yLinguistic FactszFifty-three students (20.21%) answered correctly with one of the acceptable forms . Twenty-five students (26.59%) used ginteresting,hwhich must be closely connected with the Japanesegomoshiroi.h The English adjective, however, may be suitable for games such as chessCsince the game interests your mind and intellect. You could answer with gI like to play soccer [football].h

14.        Nyuuyooku wa omoshiroi machida.
    yAcceptable AnswerszNew York is a fascinating [interesting / exciting / attractive] city.
    yLinguistic FactszSixty-six students (69.14%) answered correctly with one of the adjectives shown above. Out of the sixty-six students, forty-six students (69.69%) answered with the adjective ginteresting.h Here we can also see that many Japanese learners connect the Japanesegomoshiroihdirectly with the Englishginteresting.h

15.        Kanojowa yoku omoshiroi joodanwoiu.
    yAcceptable AnswerszFifty-six students (59.57%) answered correctly with gfunny.h
    yLinguistic FactszEleven students (11.7%) used the adjectiveginteresting,hwhich is inappropriate here. This use of ginterestingh is clearly an influence of the Japanese wordgomoshiroihupon the English wordginteresting.h

3-2 The Correlation between the percentages of Correct Answers and the TOEFL-ITP Proficiency Levels
       The cross-linguistic knowledge test results indicate that the higher the TOEFL-ITP proficiency levels are, the higher the percentages of correct answers in the cross-linguistic knowledge test go up. The following table shows the correlation.

TOEFL-ITP1=the average score of the first year students (10 classes)

TOEFL-ITP2=the average score of each class; each one of the four classes

Class1-B

Class1-G

Class1-I

Class-1J

TOEFL-ITP1

369.6

369.5

369.5

369.5

TOEFL-ITP2

333.3

378.9

403.9

437.5

Question 1

68%

100%

100%

100%

     @Q.2

58

56

88

84

Q.3

58

72

68

64

Q.4

0

8

16

20

Q.5

16

64

64

80

Q.6

0

0

0

0

Q.7

79

72

92

88

Q.8

21

56

72

72

Q.9

37

60

40

64

Q.10

0

12

56

56

Q.11

0

0

4

40

Q.12

79

92

88

100

Q.13

26

76

48

80

Q.14

37

72

80

84

Q.15

26

52

64

88

As the table shows, Class 1-J (TOEFL-ITP 437.5) ranks first in ten questions out of Fifteen questions (66.66%), Class 1-I (TOEFL-ITP 403.9) ranks first in five questions (33.33%), and Class 1-G ranks first in two questions (13.33%). Here we can see the correlation between the percentages of correct answers and the TOEFL-ITP Proficiency Levels.

4.  Significance of Cross-linguistic Perspective in Creating the Database
  Recently we have been profiting greatly from computer linguistics and varied types of databases are being created all over the world. EFL teachers and learners are enjoying the fruits of this Internet industry. We should not forget, however, that EFL learners are susceptible to cross-linguistic influence or L1 transfer errors. Japanese EFL learners, as I have shown with some interesting examples, are often seriously affected by their insufficient cross-linguistic knowledge. In creating a database for better EFL teaching and learning, therefore, we should deepen our cross-linguistic understanding of English and Japanese. Personally, I plan to gather data of the kind I have shown you today. I am sure Dr. Tono, one of today's coworkers, will tell me how best we would be able to use them.