The use of modifiers in english noun phrases of english-majored juniors in can tho university

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CAN THO UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF EDUCATION ENGLISH EDUCATION DEPARTMENT The Use of Modifiers in English Noun Phrases of English-majored Juniors in Can Tho University B.A. Thesis Supervisor: Lưu Hoàng Anh, M.Ed. Student: Nguyễn Thị Ngọc Bích Code: 7062895 Class: NN652A1 Cantho, May 2010 ABSTRACT According to Dinh (2000) and Hoang (2003), there are great number of differences in the order of modifiers in noun phrases between English and Vietnamese. Therefore, most Vietnamese learners have difficulties with the order of modifiers in noun phrases. Tran (2003), Hoang (2003) and Nguyen (2005) affirm this fact. However, there are some students are good at this aspect. Thus, there is a question posed that whether the order of modifiers in English noun phrases is too difficult for Vietnamese learners to master. To answer this question, the study was conducted. The research examines the juniors of English in Can Tho University to determine the extent to what they have mastered the order of modifiers in English noun phrases. It also attempts to investigate some typical modifiers that the students have with in terms of word order. Data collected from 70 juniors of English in Can Tho University through a 30-minute test indicate that the degree to which these students have mastered the order of noun modifiers is not high as expected. The results also reflect typical problems involving in the order of modifiers in noun phrase that the students have faced. As a results, the research has shown the strengths and weaknesses of the juniors of English in Can Tho University regarding to word order in noun phrases. i ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to acknowledge those people who created favorable conditions and who gave me a help for my research. My deep appreciation first goes to my supervisor, Luu Hoang Anh, M.A, for her invaluable suggestions, feedback and support throughout the time I were under her instruction. I am grateful to her for giving time to read versions of my research proposal and research paper to give me feedback in time. Second, I also gratefully acknowledge Ngo Thi Trang Thao, M.A. who supported me in processing the data and correcting the contents of my thesis presentation, Le Thi Huyen, M.A and Truong Nguyen Quynh Nhu, M.A who enthusiastically gave me advice and comments on my written report so that knew how to analyze statistics, and I could improve my research paper. Third, I would like to express my thanks to Nguyen Hong Qui, M.A and Thai Cong Dan, M.A for their invaluable suggestions that helped me much in directing what to do in my research. I also appreciate the assistance from students of English in Can Tho University who participated in my research with enthusiasm. I would express my thanks to Ho Thi Ngoc Mai for her assisting me collecting data. My thanks also go to all of my friends for their spiritual support in the process of my research. Finally, I would like to express my deep gratitude to my family, especially my younger sister who helped me much with processing data. ii TABLES OF CONTENTS Abstract ……………………………………………………………………………...i Acknowledgments ……………………………………………………………………ii Table of contents ………………………………………………………………….…iii List of tables and figures…………………………………………………………...…iv Chapter 1. Introduction………………………………...……………………………1 1.1. Rationale ……………………………………………………………………..1 1.2. Research aims ……….……………………………………………………….2 1.3.Research questions ……………………………...…………………………….2 1.4.Research hypotheses …...……………………………………………………..2 1.5.Thesis Organization…………………………………………………………..2 Chapter 2: Literature Review ………………………………………………………4 2.1. Noun phrases in English …………………………………………………....4 2.2. The order of modifiers in English noun phrases……………………………8 2.3. Related studies ………………………………………………………….....10 Chapter 3: Methodology…………………………………………………………….12 3.1. Research design…………………………………………………………....12 3.2. Research participants………………………………………………………12 3.3. Research instrument:………………………………………………………12 3.4. Research procedures ………………………………………………………13 Chapter 4: Results …………………………………………………………….……15 Chapter 5: Discussion…………………………………………………………….…19 5.1. Discussion…………………………………………………………………18 5.2. Implications…………………………………………………………….….21 5.3. Limitations and Suggestions………………………………………………20 5.4.Conclusion…………………………………………………….…………...22 References…………………………………………………………………………...23 Appendix 1: Test…………………………………………………………………….25 Appendix 2: Criteria for test scoring…………………………………………….…..27 iii LIST OF TABLES AND FIGURES Table 2.1: The order of adjectives ………………………………………………….5 Table 2.2: The order of modifiers in a noun phrase……………………………….. 8 Table 2.3: The order of determinatives in noun phrases noun phrase……………...8 Table 2.4 : The order of adjectives in a noun phrase…………………………….…9 Table 2.5 : The order of modifiers in a noun phrase……………………………….10 Table 3.1: The distribution of types of modifiers in noun phrases in the test...……13 Table 4.1: Descriptive statistics of the test performance ……………………….,..15 Table 4.2. The mean scores of the five types of modifiers ………..........................16 Figure 4.1. The mean scores of five kinds of modifiers. …………….……………16 Figure 4.2. The percentage of students with above and below average marks.… ..18 . iv The Use of Modifiers in English Noun Phrases of English-majored juniors in Can Tho University Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION In this chapter, I would like to state (1) the rationale, (2) the research aims, (3) the research questions and (4) research hypotheses. The thesis organization is also included afterwards. 1. 1. Rationale Each people has its own language as a people’s property. However, the Vietnamese, like other peoples all over the world, as a result of globalization, have learned English and introduced Vietnamese to foreigners. One problem is that the two languages belong to two different types. Therefore, the word orders of modifiers in noun phrases in the two languages are quite different although both languages follow the same sentence pattern SVO. Moreover, according to some recent surveys, both Vietnamese learners of English and the foreigners of Vietnamese make many mistakes of the order of noun modifiers. In addition, what motivates me to conduct this research is the significance of noun phrases in languages and the considerable differences between English and Vietnamese in the order of modifiers in noun phrases. First, noun phrases with two main functions subject and object are essential components of a basic English sentence pattern SVO. Nguyen (2006) concretizes the role in the core sentential constructions below. Sentence Noun phrase Verb Noun phrase Second, the order of modifiers in English noun phrases is quite different from that of Vietnamese ones. Almost all of modifiers in Vietnamese are placed after the head noun while many of those in English are not. One important thing is that “choice of a noun phrase is much preferred in English translation” (Nguyen, 2004:1). According Nguyen, it is necessary for translators should master the two basic structures of a noun phrase: modifiers +the head noun and the head noun + modifiers. 1 The Use of Modifiers in English Noun Phrases of English-majored juniors in Can Tho University As seen above, the order of modifiers in English is a very important problem to Vietnamese learners. In fact, many previous studies pointed out the differences between those in the two languages as well as affirmed the difficulties Vietnamese learners have regarding this aspect (Tran,2003), (Hoang, 2003) and (Nguyen, 2005). However, none of these surveys showed the extent to what the learners have with the order of modifiers in English noun phrases. For these reasons, the study “The Use of Modifiers in English Noun Phrases of English-majored juniors in Can Tho University” is conducted. 1.2. Research aims This research is aimed (1) to examine to what extent Vietnamese juniors of English in Can Tho University have mastered the order of modifiers in English noun phrases and (2) to state the types of modifiers they have most problems with. 1.3. Research questions With the two aims, this research attempts to find out the answers to the questions below 1. To what extent have the juniors in Can Tho University mastered the order of modifiers in English noun phrases? 2. Which type(s) of modifiers do they have most problems with? 1.5. Research hypotheses I hypothesized that the juniors of English in Can Tho University have mastered the order of modifiers in noun phrases to a certain extent. Besides, the research is expected to find out the types that they have most problems with. They may have difficulties with the word order in noun phrases that contain determinatives and epithets. They may also confuse with the order of qualifiers like new in something new or marital in court maritial. The aspect that they have least problems is probably the order of classifiers in a noun phrase. 1.5. Thesis Organization The thesis consists of five chapters. Chapter 1, Introduction contains rationale, research aims, research questions, research hypotheses and thesis organization. 2 The Use of Modifiers in English Noun Phrases of English-majored juniors in Can Tho University Chapter 2 Literature Review gives a review of theoretical background on the differences between Vietnamese and English in the order of modifiers in noun phrases, some related studies in these differences and some difficulties that Vietnamese learners have faced with word order in English noun phrases. Chapter 3 Methodology describes the research design, the subjects, the research instrument and the research procedures. Chapter 4 Results presents the findings collected. Chapter 5 Discussion, Limitations, Suggestions for Further research gives some explanations to the findings and point out some typical problems regarding the order of English noun modifiers. 3 The Use of Modifiers in English Noun Phrases of English-majored juniors in Can Tho University Chapter 2 LITERATURE REVIEW This chapter focuses on the review of literature. It comprises of (1) noun phrases in English, (2) the order of modifiers in noun phrases in English and (3) difficulties in the order of modifiers in noun phrases of Vietnamese learners. 2.1. Noun phrases in English The noun phrase in English potentially consists of 3 constituents: the central part, the pre-modification and the post-modification. The central part or the head noun is obligatory while the others are optional. (Jackson, 1999) Head nouns The head position in the noun phrase are filled by nouns including pronouns such as personal pronouns (I, you, we,…), indefinite pronouns (everyone, someone, anyone,…), possessive pronouns (my, your, his,…) and demonstrative pronouns (this, that, these,…). There is a restriction in the modification of proper nouns and pronouns. Pronouns are not pre-modified while proper nouns are rarely. It is possible for them to be followed by postmodification. For example, he who hesitates and lovely Morecamble, which we visited last year. Pre-modification The pre-modification in a noun phrase comprises of a number of word classes or sub-classes in a specific order: identifier-numeral/quantifier-adjective-noun modifier, as in the noun phrase these five charming country cottages Identifiers The class of identifiers includes articles (“a”, “the”, etc.), demonstratives (“this”, “those”, etc.) and possessives (“my”, your, etc.). These occur before any numerals or quantifiers and they are mutually exclusive in noun phrases in English. However, articles or demonstratives can be combined with possessives when an “of” phrase and the possessive pronoun are used, e.g. the dress of mine or this shirt of yours. 4 The Use of Modifiers in English Noun Phrases of English-majored juniors in Can Tho University Numerals/ quantifiers Unlike identifiers, numerals/ quantifiers can combine together in a noun phrase in English in the order: • ordinal + cardinal, e.g. the second five days • indefinite quantifier + cardinal (especially round numbers), e.g. several thousand people, many scores of fans • ordinal + cardinal + indefinite quantifier, e.g. the first few days Before the identifier of a noun, there can be a pre-determiner like ”all”, “both”, “half” or a fraction numeral to refer quantifier reference of the noun; e.g. all the students, both the students or one-third of the students. Descriptive adjectives Adjectives modify a head noun usually precede the head noun. If there are more than one descriptive adjectives pre-modify a noun, these are arranged in the order showed in table 2.1 below (Murphy, 2007) Table 2.1: The order of adjectives Opinion Fact adjectives Head noun adjectives Quality A Size Shape Age Color Origin beautiful large round A new Germany Material Head noun wooden Vegetable soup Car shampoo Opinion adjectives stands before fact adjectives or non-gradable adjectives stands before gradable adjectives. 5 The Use of Modifiers in English Noun Phrases of English-majored juniors in Can Tho University Truong (1998) considers a noun modifier as an adjective expresses the purpose of the head noun, and it is right before the head noun. E.g. a cheap plastic medicine cupboard If there are more than one colour adjectives, they are linked by “and” as in a red, white and green flag Noun modifiers Before a noun phrase ends in the head noun, there can be a noun as a modifier. E.g. the village policeman, the news agency It is unusual for more than one noun modifier to occur in a noun phrase as the poverty action group. The first stage in the formation of compound nouns is the construction of noun + Head noun. Child modifies poverty; and the child poverty together with action modifies group. Noun phrase in the genitive case One more pre-modification of a noun is a noun phrase in the genitive case marked by an‘s like this delightful boy’s in this delightful boy’s blue leather coat. This noun phrase in genitive case can be analyzed into identifier (this) + adjective (delightful) +head noun (boy) + genitive marker (’s) Post-modification Descriptive adjectives Look at these sentences and take notice of the order of the adjectives (1) There is nothing new. (2) The window broken yesterday will be repaired. (The window which was broken yesterday will be repaired). (3) The young man, poor but proud, refused the offer. (4) He is a man greedy for money. (5) a river two hundreds miles long, a man seventy years old. but a two hundred-mile river and a man of seventy (years). (6) They have a house much larger than yours. (They have a much larger house than yours.) 6 The Use of Modifiers in English Noun Phrases of English-majored juniors in Can Tho University These are some cases of adjective phrase used as post-modification of a noun: adjectives modifying an indefinite pronoun (1); reducing clauses with past participle (2); adjectives connected by the conjunctions “and” or “but”, with the information emphasized (3) ; adjectives modified by a preposition phrase goes after the head noun ( 4); adjectives that are used in phrases expressing measurements (5); comparative and superlative (6) Some adjectives make different meaning with pre-nominal and post-nominal position. These adjectives are “concerned”, “involved”, “mentioned”, “opposite”, “present”. After the accident the police man took the names of the people involved. (taking part in something, being part of something or connected with something) His novel had a typically involved plot. (complex) Adjectives ending in –ible, -able like responsible and possible can follow or precede the head noun. It’s the solution possible. I’d like to speak to the person responsible. Some fixed expressions are composed of the head noun and an adjective followed : court martial, notary public/ public notary, president elect, heir apparent, all the people present, generations unborn, suffering unspeakable, by all means possible, from time immemorial, etc. “Adverbs are rather more frequently found as post-modifiers in noun phrases” (Murphy, 2007). E.g. the room above, the time before . Sometimes they are regarded as reductions of a prepositional phrase (the time before this one, the room above us). Prepositional phrase According to Jackson (1999), prepositional phrases are the most common kinds of post-modifier in noun phrases the room which is above us, the man who is after me. Relative clause Relative clauses are placed after the head noun as in The man who came here yesterday. Relative clause is also involving comparative and superlative. For example, she buys more clothes than she can afford, the more expresses the comparative degree of the adjective, and than refers back to the comparative adjective. Relative clauses 7 The Use of Modifiers in English Noun Phrases of English-majored juniors in Can Tho University can be reduced into infinitive clauses as in the man to answer this question, present participle clause in the man answering this question and past participle clause in the man asked this question. 2.2. The order of modifiers in noun phrases The order of epithets in English noun phrases is controversial. In this research, I synthesize the most common order of them. The order of modifiers proposed by Downing & Lock (1994: 486) can be seen in these tables: Table 2.2 :The order of modifiers in a noun phrase Determinatives Epithets Classifiers HEAD Qualifiers Downing & Lock (1994: 486) also states in detailed the order of determinatives in noun phrases with the table below. Table 2.3 : The order of determinatives in a noun phrase Partition Deixis Quality Quantity Fractional: half, Definite: the Adjectival Cardinal: five, a (a) quarter, one- Indefinite: a(n), determiners: dozen, a score, some - Similarity: same, hundreds,… Specific: identical Ordinal: first, this, that, these, - Difference: other, second, next, last… those, my; what, different Non-exact: much, whose, whichever, - Totality: many, little, few, a such, some complete,, whole, No-specific: some, entire, total third, Multiplying: double, twice, treble, three times… Non-specific: all of, both of, any of, most of, each of, several of, enough of,ect. Other few, fewer, … any, no, each, every - Familiar: familiar, well-known, famous, notorious quantifiers: Cardinal + of 8 The Use of Modifiers in English Noun Phrases of English-majored juniors in Can Tho University The + ordinal + of Non-exact + of Dao (2007: 10) also presents the order of noun modifiers with the table following Table 2.4 : The order of adjectives in a noun phrase 1. Noun markers (Determinatives) 2. Evaluation/ Opinion 3. Size 4. Shape/ Length 5. Color 6. Participle forms 7. Origin/ Nationality 8. Religion 9. Material 10. Type 11. [Noun] Purpose/ Use 12. Main noun From the tables above, the order of modifiers in noun phrases can be visualized with the table below (Downing & Lock, 1994, Murphy, 2007, Dao 2007) 9 The Use of Modifiers in English Noun Phrases of English-majored juniors in Can Tho University Table 2.5 : The order of modifiers in a noun phrase Determinatives 1. Noun markers 1.1. 1.2. 1.3. 1.4. Partition Deixis Quality Quantity 2. Evaluation/ Opinion 3. Size 4. Shape/ Length 5. Color Epithets 6. Participle forms 7. Origin/ Nationality 8. Religion 9. Material 10. Type Classifiers 11. [Noun] Purpose/ Use HEAD 12. Main noun Qualifiers 13. Qualifiers 2.3. Related studies Based on the differences between noun phrases in the two languages, Hoang (2003) said that Vietnamese learners have difficulties with the linearity of noun phrases in English. In addition, Tran (2003) affirmed in “Một số vấn đề liên quan đến việc dạy và học tiếng Anh cho người Việt” that modifiers different distributions of noun English noun phrase from that in Vietnamese are amongs elements confusing Vietnamese learners. In fact, noun phrase errors, in Vietnamese learners Mastering English articles (Nguyen, 2005), are counted to 135 (the highest percentage of errors 35.7%) from 14 essays of junior and senior university students of English 10 The Use of Modifiers in English Noun Phrases of English-majored juniors in Can Tho University Education at Can Tho University. Among these is 4.3% faulty pre-modification or post-modification. According to my experience in learning English as a foreign language and my observation on my tutees, my friends and to some opinions in English learning forums, English beginners makes mistakes in the position of descriptive adjectives whereas learners at higher levels have problems with word order in multi-modifier noun phrases. It is obvious that Vietnamese learners have difficulties with the linearity of modifiers in English noun phrase. However, the extent to which they have error with the order of modifiers and the types of modifiers with which they have problems are unknown. These are expected to be discovered by this research. 11 The Use of Modifiers in English Noun Phrases of English-majored juniors in Can Tho University Chapter 3 METHODOLOGY This chapter provides details about the research method employed in this study. This part consists of (1) the research design, (2) the research participants, (3) the research instrument and (4) the research procedures. 3.1. Research design: The research follows a descriptive design. A test was delivered to the juniors of English in Can Tho University to measure their performance on the order of modifiers in noun phrases. The test was designed to answer the two research questions. 3.2. Research participants: As mentioned in the research aims, the participants are English-majored juniors in Can Tho University. The selection of participants assures both the external and internal validity of the research. In terms of external validity, 70 participnants is a sufficient size to allow for generalizezation of results of approximately 240 third-year students of English at Can Tho University. Moreover, 70 samples is possible to considering the numbers in data analysis. With regard to the internal validity, the background knowledge of the participants is matched with what is purported to measure via the test. The participants, particularly, have completed 3 modules of English Grammar In Use in which they focus on the structure of noun phrases, premodifiers and post-modifiers in noun phrases as well as adjective order in noun phrases. Therefore, they are supposed to have good knowledge of noun phrase structure, part of speech and have high aware of the order of modifiers in noun phrases. 3.3. Research Instrument: To measure the extent to what the juniors of English at Can Tho University have mastered the order of modifiers in noun phrases and find out the types of modifiers they have most problems with, a 20-item test was employed. The test was partly adapted from Truong (1998), Jackson (1999), Le (2002), Nguyen (2006) and Murphy (2007). It is believed that the test was suitably used to reach the research aims. First, in each test item, students were asked to arrange words given in the brackets to form a meaningful and grammatical noun phrase. Through these items, the knowledge of 12 The Use of Modifiers in English Noun Phrases of English-majored juniors in Can Tho University order of modifiers in noun phrases of the participants would show in the test. Second, word ordering at the level of phrase, noun phrase, not at the level of sentence focused on what is purported to measure. In addition, the test with 20 items covered 5 types of modifiers in noun phrases. Furthermore, each type of modifiers in the test objective was responsible by at least 3 test items so that by chance marks would be limited. Finally, simple sentence patterns, familiar words, common topics, and a familiar test type, word ordering, and clear instruction with negative word not capitalized were used in the test in order that the participants would understand clearly what were asked to do in the test, so their performance on the test matched the knowledge of order of noun modifiers. The 20 test items can be categorized into 5 aspects of modifiers in noun phrases according to the classification of modifiers proposed by Downing & Lock (1994), Jackson (1999), Dao (2002) and Murphy (2007). The first group consisting of items 2, 8, 9, 20 aims to measure students’ knowledge of the positions of determinatives in noun phrases. The second group with items 4, 7, 13, 15 measures their knowledge of the order of epithets in noun phrases. Third, the order of classifiers in noun phrases is tested by questions 10, 15, 18. The group of items 1, 3, 6,11,12,19 measures the participants’ performance on the order of qualifiers. The last group with items 5, 16, 17 aims to measure students’ performance on the order of many kinds of modifiers in noun phrases. The test is scored in the scale of 0 to 10. (see appendix 2 for answer keys and appendix 3 for detailed criteria for test scoring). Table 3.1: The distribution of types of modifiers in noun phrases in the test. Types of modifiers Test items Determinatives 2, 8, 9, 20 Epithets 4, 7, 13, 15 Classifiers 10, 15, 18 Qualifiers 1, 3, 6, 11, 12, 19 Many kinds of 5, 16, 17 modifiers in a noun phrase 13 The Use of Modifiers in English Noun Phrases of English-majored juniors in Can Tho University 3.4. Research procedures After theoretical research, I designed the test according to the aims of the research. Pilot-testing carried out gave me the outcomes as I expected. Then, I delivered the test to 70 English-majored juniors in Can Tho University. The participants were explained clearly what to do in the test. They were asked to do the test seriously in 30 minutes. The test was scored based on a detailed scale (see more in appendix 3 for detailed criteria for test scoring). Meanwhile, noticeable mistakes were taken notes. Next, I ran Scale Test to test the reliability of the test. I then analyzed the data collected from the test with SPSS and the graphs. Finally, I reported the results and drew conclusions of the data, and gave explanations to the typical problems the students met in the test. 14 The Use of Modifiers in English Noun Phrases of English-majored juniors in Can Tho University Chapter 4 RESULTS This chapter deals with the outcomes from the test. The results are analyzed. 4.1. The Extent that Students of English have mastered the order of modifiers To know how well the students worked with modifiers, the test with 20 items was used. These items cover the five main types of modifiers: determinatives, epithets, classifiers, qualifiers and multi-modifiers in noun phrases. I delivered the test, collected the test responses and analyzed the test responses using the SPSS program. First, I ran the Scale Test to test the reliability of the test. The internal consistency of the test is .74. Since the items in the test were grouped into five categories, I ran the Descriptive Statistics Test to check for the mean score, the mode, the median and the standard deviation. The results of the descriptive statistics are shown in table 4.1 Table 4.1: Descriptive statistics of the test performance Total N Minimum Maximum M (SD) 70 9.4 3.2 6.95 (1.22) Through table 4.1, we can see that the mean score of the whole test is rather good (M = 6.95). This means that the students do rather well with modifiers. As I mentioned in Section 3.3, the students’ use of modifiers were shown into five main categories: determinatives, epithets, classifiers, qualifiers and multimodifiers in noun phrases. In the following section, the mean scores of these ones in order will be presented to see how well each type of modifiers was used by the students. Table 4.2 presents the statistics of the mean score of each type of modifiers. 15
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