A grammatical and pragmatic analysis of English passives in second language acquisition

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Jung, Woo-Hyun
Riddle, Elizabeth M.
Issue Date
Thesis (Ph. D.)
Department of English
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This dissertation has two main purposes: (a) to provide a contrastive analysis and theoretical background of the passive in English and Korean; (b) to investigate how Korean learners of English use the English passive in terms of forms, meanings, and functions.One major claim in this dissertation is that the passive is best accounted for by the notion of role prominence in both English and Korean. In addition, a significant difference is revealed in emotional (affective) functions of the passive in English and Korean, showing that the emotional function prevails in Korean far more than in English.After the discussion of theoretical background, Korean learners' actual use of the English passive is analyzed. The specific analysis of grammatical errors shows that Korean learners make local errors (errors significantly inhibiting communication) more than global errors (errors not significantly inhibiting communication). Pragmatic errors are divided largely into discourse functional errors (violation of role prominence, abrupt topic shift, and violation of defocusing) and affective functional errors. The results show that affective functional errors outnumber discourse functional errors. These results are accounted for in terms of not only language transfer and but also a socio-cultural factor, prestige of a passive sentence with respect to an active sentence. Of particular interest is the existence of a hierarchy of acceptability in pragmatic errors. Analysis of medio-passive errors suggests that the native language forms greatly affect the learners' target language forms.This dissertation plays particular attention to the pragmatic aspects of the passive, both theoretical and practical. It is argued that the learners' use of the passive in accordance with pragmatic principles will enhance cohesive writing, facilitating communication.Generally speaking, this dissertation contributes to several important areas of study in second language acquisition, including error analysis and contrastive analysis in terms of grammar and pragmatics. A major significance of this dissertation is its demonstration of the importance of pragmatics in understanding the acqusition of grammar.