Farsi-speaking Learners’ Differential Command of Definite Types: A Cross-linguistic Study

| January 8, 2014

August 2007. Volume 2 Issue 1

Farsi-speaking Learners’ Differential Command of Definite Types:
A Cross-linguistic Study

Fariba Mobini
University of Isfahan, Iran

M.H. Tahririan
Sheikhbahaee University, Iran

Bio Data:
Fariba Mobini, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor at the University of Zanjan in the Department of TEFL and Translation Studies. Dr. Mobini teaches Linguistics, Contrastive Analysis, Principles and Methodology of Translation, General English, and Persian Grammar and has research interests in the areas of the Syntax-Semantics Interface, Definiteness Contents, Interlanguage Issues, and Cognitive Facets of Approximative Systems.

M.H. Tahririan specializes in linguistics and language teaching and has taught courses and supervised dissertations at Shiraz and Isfahan Universities. His present research interests are contrastive linguistics and critical discourse analysis. He teaches at Sheikhbahaee University in Baharestan, Isfahan.

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Deficient use of the definite article has been recognized as a persistent problem in EFL situations. To investigate the matter, the present study focuses on learners’ conceptualization of definiteness and in this respect differentiates between two types of simple definite noun phrases, viz semantic and pragmatic definites. To appraise learners’ handling of the two definite types across L1 and L2, i.e. Farsi and English, a bilingual measurement on definiteness was conducted for sophomores of Zanjan University. The results were indicative of participants’ more control over English definites as compared to Farsi. No correspondence was observed between participants’ knowledge of definiteness in English and their General English Course grades. Students of different faculties manifested differential commands of English and Farsi definite types. Considering local language background, Turkish speaking students displayed superior performance on English definites, but there was no significant difference in this regard between students who were competent in a local language vs. those who were not. The findings were interpreted as substantiating the significant role of the meaning-based orientation to pedagogy of definiteness, the implication being that providing the learners with a utilitarian perception of definite types can promote their command of the definite article.

Keywords: definiteness, pragmatics, semantics

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Category: 2007