Elham Al-Makatrah

Markedness variability: the case of do-support

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This paper focuses on how the markedness of do-support varies across negation and inversion. More specifically, this study investigates in which grammatical constructions (negation, yes-no inversion and whinversion), do-support causes more learning challenges for adult Arabicspeaking learners of English. Accordingly, the question is addressed of what factors contribute to variations in the degree of do-support markedness across these grammatical constructions. To collect the data, a written production task and a multiple-choice task were administrated to 100 adult Arabicspeaking learners of English at beginner and advanced levels. In addition, a semi-structured interview was conducted with 30 learners selected conveniently from the two groups. The findings indicate that there is a significant relationship between the type of grammatical construction and the difficulty learners exhibit with do-support. All three grammatical constructs of do-support proved to be challenging for learners, especially at the beginner level. However, it was found that wh-inversion was connected with more complexity. The results suggest that do-support is less challenging if it is affiliated with semantic functions than if it only appears to satisfy the syntactic requirements of carrying tense and agreement. Its markedness interacts with the degree of the markedness of its grammatical construct and that of the corresponding Arabic grammatical construct.


  • Arabic
  • L1 Influence
  • Do-Support
  • L2 Learning
  • Markedness
  • Variability


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