Sentence-level vs. NP-level Genericity: Are Arabic Learners of English Sensitive to Genericity Type?

Abdulrahman Alzamil


The study was conducted to investigate the L2 acquisition of English generics by L1 Arabic speakers. The present study considered the two types of genericity (NP-level vs. sentence-level). Since generics in Arabic are always definite, the study investigated whether L1 Arabic speakers perform similarly in both types. The study recruited 43 participants (36 Saudi-Arabic-speaking participants and seven native English speakers). The Saudi-Arabic-speaking participants were assigned to two proficiency levels (23 elementary and 13 lower intermediate) in accordance with the Oxford Quick Placement Test. An Acceptability Judgement Task was administered to test their use of English generics. Five types of nouns were used (definite singulars and plurals, indefinite singulars and plurals, and bare singulars). The results revealed that: a) statistically, the Arabic speakers were significantly less accurate than the native English speakers; b) the Arabic speakers rated the non-target definite plurals highly in both types of genericity; and c) they rated the target indefinite singulars low with sentence-level genericity. These findings demonstrated that Arabic speakers were sensitive to genericity type, and that their selections cannot be explained solely in terms of their L1.


L2 Acquisition, Genericity, Arabic, EFL Learners, L1 Transfer

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