Language Transfer: From Topic Prominence to Subject Prominence

| September 7, 2015

Title: Language Transfer: From Topic Prominence to Subject Prominence

Keywords: language transfer, topic-prominence, subject-prominence

Lanfeng Lu

Lanfeng Lu received her B.A degree in English Literature from Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, China and M.A. degree in TESOL from the University of Leeds, UK. From 2006 until now, she has been with Zhuhai City Polytechnic as an English teacher.


This paper explores Chinese native language transfer on English second language acquisition (SLA), focusing on Chinese topic prominence (TP) and English subject prominence (SP). The article intends to find out whether Chinese EFL learners will transfer their Chinese topic-prominent constitutions to their English interlanguage and whether transfer will differ at different proficiency levels. 125 participants are involved in three tasks: interpretation, translation and acceptability judgment. The results show that in interpretation and translation tasks, the numbers of TPs decline and even disappear with the increase of the learners’ English proficiency; in acceptability judgment task, the learners’ awareness of unacceptability and unnaturalness of Chinese TPs in English increases as their English proficiency progresses. Chinese transfer does play an important role in English SLA. Moreover, the study also finds that the results of interpretation and translation tasks are not exactly in accordance with that of acceptability task. In addition, English native speakers seem to be more tolerant with Chinese TP than most Chinese EFL learners.

Category: 2015 Thesis, Thesis