Relative clauses in advanced EFL writing: A corpus-based study on the influence of a first language

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This study explores if traces of linguistic divergence in the use of relative clauses (RCs) can be found in English learner language. RCs have been subjected to a considerable amount of research on language acquisition. They are structurally complex and prevalent within and across languages, making them an interesting object of study. However, little non-elicited research has been conducted on second language acquisition of RCs. This study explores the use of RC constructions in large corpora by highly proficient Dutch and Czech EFL learners. Interlanguage phenomena are revealed by quantitative contrastive interlanguage analysis of the nonnative varieties and native English as a reference (L1 vs. L2). Furthermore, the typologically different L1 backgrounds of the learners form a prefect testing environment to investigate if the interlanguage can be attributed to interference from an L1 or if it is developmental in nature (L2 vs. L2). The results reveal instances of quantitative divergent interlanguage phenomena in the nonnative writing characterized by an interplay between L1 transfer and developmental factors. Key words: relative clauses, EFL writing, interlanguage, L1 transfer, pragmalinguistic transfer, developmental errors, ICLE, fossilization
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