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Lexical strategies of Chinese learners of English in L1-L2 translation [Elektronische Ressource] / vorgelegt von Long Chen

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Lexical Strategies of Chinese Learners of English in L1-L2 Translation INAUGURAL-DISSERTATION zur Erlangung des Dr. phil. dem Fachbereich Fremdsprachliche Philologien der Philipps-Universität Marburg vorgelegt von Long Chen aus Xinjiang, China Marburg 2005 Vom Fachbereich Fremdsprachliche Philologien der Philipps-Universität Marburg als Dissertation angenommen am 15 November, 2005 Gutachter: Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Zimmermann Prof. Dr. Ruth Albert Tag der mündlichen Prüfung am 14 Dezember, 2005 Acknowledgments During the process of this dissertation research, numerous people have supported me. I would like to express my most sincere gratitude to my doctorate supervisor, Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Zimmermann, who has guided and encouraged me throughout the years. His constructive comments and insightful questions have provided invaluable stimulation for my work. His consistent support and encouragement have been vital to the completion of this dissertation. I greatly appreciate Marcus Callies’s help to solve the problems that I have. Dr. Christian Uffmann has my gratitude for generously sharing his SPSS knowledge and for his perceptive comments on data coding. I am also grateful to Nila LaVanaway and Professor Zhao Hong for ranking the subjects’ translation quality and judging the learners’ L2 proficiency levels, which is invaluable for a sophisticated data analysis.

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Published 01 January 2005
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Lexical Strategies of Chinese Learners of English in
L1-L2 Translation

INAUGURAL-DISSERTATION
zur
Erlangung des Dr. phil.
dem
Fachbereich Fremdsprachliche Philologien
der
Philipps-Universität Marburg
vorgelegt von
Long Chen
aus
Xinjiang, China
Marburg 2005










Vom Fachbereich Fremdsprachliche Philologien
der Philipps-Universität Marburg als Dissertation
angenommen am 15 November, 2005

Gutachter: Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Zimmermann
Prof. Dr. Ruth Albert

Tag der mündlichen Prüfung am 14 Dezember, 2005















Acknowledgments
During the process of this dissertation research, numerous people have supported
me. I would like to express my most sincere gratitude to my doctorate supervisor, Prof.
Dr. Rüdiger Zimmermann, who has guided and encouraged me throughout the years.
His constructive comments and insightful questions have provided invaluable
stimulation for my work. His consistent support and encouragement have been vital to
the completion of this dissertation. I greatly appreciate Marcus Callies’s help to solve
the problems that I have. Dr. Christian Uffmann has my gratitude for generously
sharing his SPSS knowledge and for his perceptive comments on data coding. I am
also grateful to Nila LaVanaway and Professor Zhao Hong for ranking the subjects’
translation quality and judging the learners’ L2 proficiency levels, which is invaluable
for a sophisticated data analysis.
I would like to thank the 38 graduate students who participated in this research
but whose names did not appear in the dissertation. Their curiosity and enthusiasm for
the research and the prospective results of it were most encouraging. I will remember
their patience and kind cooperation.
For their teaching and support I wish to thank all my colleagues, who have
contributed valuable comments and have shared many ideas for data collection and
data analysis.
Many thanks also belong to my friends, old and new, Chen Mei, Ou Yang Li Peng,
Zhang Yan, Zheng Rixing, who have cheered me in Germany. Chen Feng, Li Zhiyong,
Ma Zewei, Xiong Jia and Zhao Shuying have done the same in China.
I wish to acknowledge my great debts to my family. I owe my deepest respect and
gratitude to my parents, my two sisters, Chen Yan and Chen Feng, and their husbands,
who have offered consistent support throughout my many years of graduate study in
Germany.
Last but not least, I would like to thank my wife, Wang Qishu, who has supported
and kept me company as I pursued my doctoral degree at the Philipps-University
Marburg, Germany. My son, Chen Qi, and my two nephews, Guo Yuntao and Zhang
Shijie, have given me many moments of joy which have kept my spirits up.




iAbstract
This dissertation examines the use of lexical search strategies in the form of
written translation from L1 into L2 by intermediate and advanced adult Chinese
learners of English as a foreign language. The purpose of the study was: (a) to identify
and describe the lexical strategies employed by different proficiency levels of
English-speaking learners of Chinese when they are unable to retrieve a word or
phrase to express their meaning in the written translation task; (b) to investigate
whether there is a relationship between the use of types of lexical strategies and the
learners’ L2 proficiency levels; (c) to explore the effectiveness of various types of
strategies for different linguistic proficiency groups; (d) to demonstrate preferences of
strategies between and within L2 proficiency groups and individuals; and (e) to show
the cause of the discrepancy between L2 proficiency levels and translation competence
and to reveal the characteristics of the learners’ thinking and lexical strategies when
translating L1 into L2.
Adopting think-aloud protocol and retrospective interviews as research methods
to collect empirical data, all think-aloud protocols and retrospective data were recorded
and transcribed in order to single out lexical strategies employed by Chinese learners
of English at different proficiency levels. Variations of strategies between and within
proficiency groups and individuals were processed statistically and the significance of
the use of various lexical strategies was testified by means of referential statistics.
By analyzing the data and referring to the theoretical background of the bilingual
mental lexicon (De Bot, 1993), language transfer (Odlin, 1989; Ringbom, 1987, 1991,
2001) and communication strategies (Bialystok, 1990; Kasper & Kellerman, 1997;
Tarone, 1983), these findings were obtained from the study: (1) A taxonomy of lexical
strategies by Chinese learners of English at intermediate level and advanced level was
identified; (2) Advanced Chinese learners of English preferred L2-based strategies
while intermediate Chinese learners of English chose strategies which were rooted in
their native language; (3) There were certain changes in the strategies used within both
L1-based and L2-based categories of lexical strategies; (4) The effectiveness of lexical
strategies employed by Chinese learners of English depended on the ‘ease of
comprehension’ (Littlemore, 2003); (5) Noun-plus-noun compound structure was used
more by intermediate Chinese learners, even though advanced learners also applied the
strategy to some extent because the Chinese language favors the structure of
compounding; and (6) L2 proficiency level did not correspond to translation
iiproduction competence. L2 proficiency level is not the only factor that determines the
translation production quality.
The findings of the study make it possible to conclude that Chinese learners of
English at different L2 proficiency levels may apply a combination of lexical search
strategies, but preferences of lexical strategies exist among individuals and within
linguistic proficiency groups. The teaching implications elicited in the study may be
helpful for searching words in the learner’s mental lexicon. Thus the teaching of
lexical strategies may be worthwhile (Zimmermann, 1999). Although the findings of
the study may contribute to a better understanding of L2 acquisition and bilingualism,
the scope of this study is, of course, limited, and further research is needed.

iiiTable of Contents
Acknowledgments .........................................................................................................i
Abstract........................................................................................................................ ii
List of Figures..............................................................................................................ix
List of Tables.................................................................................................................x
Chapter 1 Introduction
1.1 Research Orientation.........................................................................................1
1.2 English Learning Situation in China.................................................................2
1.3 Chinese Word Formation..................................................................................4
1.4 Comparison of Chinese and English Noun Combinations ...............................5
1.5 Lexical Difficulties Encountered by Chinese Learners of English...................9
1.6 Target of Research ..........................................................................................10
1.7 Research Questions and Hypotheses ..............................................................11
1.8 Overview of the Dissertation ..........................................................................14
Chapter 2 Theoretical Considerations
2.1 Bilingualism....................................................................................................15
2.1.1 Delimitation of the Bilingual for Chinese Learners of English ............16
2.1.2 Types of Bilingualism ...........................................................................16
2.1.3 The Bilingual Mental Lexicon ..............................................................17
2.1.3.1 Organization of the Bilingual Mental Lexicon ...........................17
2.1.3.2 The Relationship between the L1 and the L2 Mental Lexicon...19
2.1.3.2.1 Independence of the L1 and the L2 Mental Lexicon ........20
2.1.3.2.2 Interdependence of the L1 and the L2 Mental Lexicon....21
2.2 Language Transfer in Foreign Language Learning ........................................23
2.2.1 Perspectives on Language Transfer ......................................................25
2.2.2 Factors Influencing Language Transfer ................................................29
2.2.2.1 Structural Factors........................................................................29
2.2.2.1.1 Language Typology...........................................................29
iv2.2.2.1.2 Language Level.................................................................30
2.2.2.1.3 Frequency..........................................................................31
2.2.2.1.4 Word Class ........................................................................31
2.2.2.2. Non-Structural Factors...............................................................32
2.2.2.2.1 Linguistic Proficiency.......................................................32
2.2.2.2.2 Linguistic Awareness and Linguistic Focus .....................33
2.2.2.2.3 Social and Educational Background .................................34
2.3 Communication Strategies and Lexical Strategies .........................................34
2.3.1 Definition of Communication Strategies ..............................................35
2.3.2 Taxonomies of Communication Strategies ...........................................38
2.3.3 Variables Affecting the Use of Communication Strategies...................46
2.3.3.1 The Learner’s Language Proficiency..........................................46
2.3.3.2 Nature of Tasks and Effects of Problem Source.........................48
2.3.3.3 Learning Situation.......................................................................49
2.3.3.4 Personality...................................................................................49
2.3.3.5 Effects of Native Language ........................................................50
2.3.4 Lexical Strategies..................................................................................50
2.3.4.1 Zimmermann and Schneider’s (1987) Model of
Lexical Search Strategies............................................................50
2.3.4.2 Mondahl’s (1995) Lexical Search Strategies..............................52
2.3.5 Teaching and Teachability of Communication Strategies ....................55
2.4 Summary.........................................................................................................56
Chapter 3 Research Design and Data Collection
3.1 Introspection as a Research Method ...............................................................57
3.1.1 The Use of the Think-Aloud Protocol ..................................................65
3.1.2 Retrospective Interview ........................................................................66
3.2 The Design of the Experiment69
3.2.1 Subjects.................................................................................................69
3.2.2 Criteria for Selecting Subjects ..............................................................70
v3.2.2.1 The Subject’s Linguistic Proficiency ..........................................70
3.2.2.2 English Language Learning Background....................................71
3.2.2.3 Scores on the National Graduate Record Examination...............73
3.2.2.4 Teachers’ Judgments ...................................................................74
3.2.3 Translation Task ....................................................................................74
3.2.3.1 Text in the Trial Session..............................................................75
3.2.3.2 Text in the Improved Round .......................................................76
3.3 The Experiment...............................................................................................77
3.3.1 Creating a Relaxed Atmosphere in the Office ......................................79
3.3.2 Explaining the Task...............................................................................80
3.3.3 Training and Practicing Think-Aloud Technique..................................80
3.3.4 Pilot Round Study .................................................................................82
3.3.5 Real Round Study83
3.3.6 Carrying out the Retrospective Interview.............................................83
3.4 Processing of the Data ....................................................................................84
3.4.1 Establishing the Transcription Rules ....................................................85
3.4.2 Coding the Protocols.............................................................................86
3.4.3 Translation Quality Ranking.................................................................87
3.5 Summary.........................................................................................................88
Chapter 4 A Taxonomy of Lexical Strategies
4.1 Identifying Lexical Search Strategies .............................................................89
4.1.1 The Identification on the Basis of Think-Aloud Protocols ...................89
4.1.1.1 The Reliability of ..................................90
4.1.1.2 Using the Structure of Lexical Search ........................................91
4.1.1.3 Using Strategy Markers ..............................................................93
4.1.2 The Identification on the Basis of Retrospective Data .........................95
4.1.2.1 The Reliability of Retrospective Data.........................................95
4.1.2.2 The Usefulness of Retrospective Data........................................97
4.2 The Taxonomy..............................................................................................101
vi4.2.1 Retrieval..............................................................................................103
4.2.2 Strategic Activities ..............................................................................103
4.2.2.1 L1-Based Strategies ..................................................................104
4.2.2.1.1 L1-Based Form-Orientation............................................104
4.2.2.1.2 L1-Based Content-Orientation........................................105
4.2.2.2 L2-Based Strategies108
4.2.2.2.1 L2-Based Form-Orientation............................................108
4.2.2.2.2 L2-Based Content-Orientation........................................109
4.2.3 Non-Strategic Activities——Monitoring Strategies...........................112
4.2.3.1 Reflection..................................................................................113
4.2.3.2 Metalinguistic Statements.........................................................113
4.2.3.3 Deficit Statements.....................................................................113
4.2.3.4 Orthographic Check..................................................................114
4.2.3.5 L1 and L2 Repetition ................................................................114
4.2.4 Abandonment ......................................................................................115
4.2.4.1 Problem Avoidance ...................................................................115
4.2.4.2 Strategy Avoidance116
4.3 Summary.......................................................................................................117
Chapter 5 The Use of Lexical Strategies and Translation Quality Ranking
5.1 Frequency of the Use of Lexical Search Strategies ......................................118
5.1.1 The Use of L1-Based Strategies..........................................................119
5.1.1.1 The Use of RELEX...................................................................120
5.1.1.2 The Use of L1 SYN ..................................................................122
5.1.1.3 The Use of L1 REL CON123
5.1.1.4 The Use of L1 DECOMP..........................................................124
5.1.1.5 The Use of L1 PARA ................................................................126
5.1.1.6 The Use of L1 ASSOC..............................................................127
5.1.2 The Use of L2-Based Strategies130
5.1.2.1 The Use of L2 FO .....................................................................130
vii5.1.2.2 The Use of L2 SYN ..................................................................131
5.1.2.3 The Use of L2 REL CON..........................................................133
5.1.2.4 The Use of L2 FIG....................................................................133
5.1.2.5 The Use of L2 Formal Variation ...............................................134
5.1.2.6 The Use of L2 PARA ................................................................135
5.1.2.7 The Use of Word Formation .....................................................136
5.1.2.8 The Use of L2 ASSOC..............................................................138
5.2 Retrieval........................................................................................................142
5.3 Monitoring Strategies....................................................................................143
5.4 Abandonment................................................................................................143
5.5 Discrepancy between Translation Competence and Linguistic Proficiency.144
5.6 Some Borderline Cases.................................................................................147
5.7 Summary.......................................................................................................149
Chapter 6 Interpretation of the Results, Discussion and Conclusion
6.1 The Relationship between the Use of Lexical Strategies
and Linguistic Proficiency ............................................................................150
6.1.1 Hypothesis 1........................................................................................151
6.1.2 Hypothesis 2155
6.2 The Blend of Lexical Strategies....................................................................157
6.3 The Effectiveness of Lexical Strategies........................................................162
6.4 Transfer of Chinese Noun Compounding Structure .....................................166
6.5 Discrepancy between Translation Quality and L2 Proficiency ....................168
6.5.1 Learner’s Cognitive Style ...................................................................169
6.5.2 Learner’s Experience ..........................................................................169
6.5.3 Characteristics of Learner’s Thinking.................................................171
6.5.4 Characteristics of Lexical Strategies...................................................172
6.6 Implications for Teaching.............................................................................173
6.6.1 Expanding Vocabulary through Reading............................................174
6.6.2 Developing L2 Lexical Networks in a Classroom Setting..................175
viii