Are –ING Psych Adjectives More Difficult to Acquire than –ED Psych Adjectives? Evidence from L1 Thai Learners of L2 English

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Itsara Namtapi

Abstract

This study investigated the acquisition of English psych(ological) adjectives by Thai learners. Theoretically, participial adjectives with the –ed and –ing morphemes, which are derived from OE psych verbs, have been treated similarly to SE and OE psych verbs, respectively. (Roberts 1989; Nakajima 1993). As the little research done in this area only involved Chinese learners (Chen, 1997), Japanese learners (Sato, 2008; Suzuki et al., 2013; Hirakawa and Suzuki, 2014), French learners (Chen, 1997), and Spanish learners (Hirakawa and Suzuki, 2014), this study aimed to fill in the gap by exploring whether –ing psych adjectives would pose more problems to Thai learners than –ed psych adjectives as witnessed in the previous studies. Fifty-six Thai students from a public university were recruited and divided into three levels of English proficiency before they participated in a Picture Description Task (PDT) and a Sentence Interpretation Task (SIT). The results suggested that all groups of the participants performed significantly better on –ed psych adjectives in the PDT. The elementary and low-intermediate groups also performed significantly better on –ed adjectives in the SIT. It is assumed that the learners had difficulty mapping the Theme onto subjects, thus performing worse on –ing adjectives. It can be argued that the L1 Thai learners were guided by universal principles as more marked structures, like in the case of –ing adjectives, were more problematic for them. Some morphological properties associated with psych adjective formation in their L1 were also observed in this study.

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