Causal verb acquisition: What can frequency tell us?

Yuying ZHI, Hin Tat CHEUNG

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


MAKE, HAVE and LET are high-frequency words used in L2 writings and their causative semantics promote the productivity. Yet, how these three verbs develop in L2 writings and what are the differences on their use across L2s have rarely been addressed in the current literature. Therefore, the present study explores the two issues from both a developmental and a cross-linguistic perspective. Developmentally, this study focuses on the causative use of the three verbs produced by L2 learners at different English proficiency levels; cross-linguistically, it compares the three verbs in Chinese, Spanish and Swedish English learners’ writings. Corpus data of different English proficiency levels were extracted from three L2 corpora (CLEC, WRICLE, USE[1]). The findings indicate that differences exist in general and causative uses and moreover, in causative uses across L2s. Furthermore, a chi-square test revealed that only in Spanish and Swedish writings is there a statistically significant relationship between causative pattern production and L2 learners’ English proficiency levels. These results reflect different perspectives on L2 written language development, and the implications for cross-linguistic comparison on L2 development will be discussed. Copyright © 2018 Asia TEFL.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


Zhi, Y., & Cheung, H. (2018, June). Causal verb acquisition: What can frequency tell us? Paper presented at The 16th Asia TEFL 1st MAAL & 6th HAAL 2018 International Conference: English Language Teaching in the Changing Glocalised World: Research and Praxis, University of Macau, Macau, China.


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