Luận văn Contrastive analysis

1. Rationale During the acquisition of any foreign language, the language learners have to encounter a great number of difficulties due to the differences between the learners’ mother tongue and the foreign language. The Vietnamese learners, who are interested in English, can be taken as examples for these two languages belong to two different groups. Among numerous difficulties hindering the Vietnamese acquisition of English, the concepts of voices in general, passive voice in particular seems to be one of the core issues. In this paper, the concepts of voice and passive voice are seen from a broader view with two following reasons. Firstly, according to Asher R.E. (1994:4938), “linguists use the term voice in a number of senses” and “the broadest definition of voice encompassing a wide range of grammatical constructions that are commonly thought to be quite distinct from those related by the active - passive alternation”. This means that the term voice in broader sense does exist in all languages. Secondly, the term voice in a narrow sense refers to morphological categories only. In such languages as English and Vietnamese, however, verbs do not have distinct morphological categories for different voices. In English passive voice is expressed with the syntactic constructions, involving a combination of the auxiliary verb be and the past participle form of verbs. In Vietnamese, there is no verbal marking for different voices and thus there is no active – passive opposition reflected in the verb. Therefore, in these languages, suggested by Asher R.E, the term voice can be defined in terms of “syntactic constructions with reference to specific grammatical characteristics”. These are two reasons why this paper has the title of “A contrastive analysis of passive voice between English and Vietnamese”. There are several studies of the passive voice in English and the passive contrast between English and Vietnamese. These studies range from the negative effects of Vietnamese words “bÞ” and “®­îc” on the formation of English passive expressions (§en, 2003) to structural differences between the English and Vietnamese passive expressions (HiÒn, 2000). The authors of these researches have succeeded in comparing the English passive expressions with the Vietnamese equivalents. These researches, however, neither confirm the existence of the passive voice in Vietnamese nor point out the differences in factors decisive to passive usage in two languages. While the concepts of voices in general and passive voice in particular are familiar to the English, these concepts are abstract to Vietnamese learners. The problems come from the fact that passive voice is related to different areas from syntax, semantics and pragmatics as well. Such questions really encourage me to do a comprehensive research on the differences related to passive voice in English and the “so - called” passive expressions in Vietnamese. The comprehensive research here means the approach from all three related aspects: syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. In addition, as the title of thesis has implied, “contrastive analysis” will focus on the differences between the English and Vietnamese passive expressions on the ground of the similarity. 2. Aims of the study The thesis is to contrast the passive constructions in English and in Vietnamese based on the syntactic, semantic and pragmatic features. Firstly, in the syntactic features, the thesis will dealt with the compulsory and optional parts between the typical passive constructions in two languages. Then in semantic features, the difference is drawn from the meaning of different components in a passive expression namely passive markers, passive subjects. Finally, the pragmatic features will be analyzed in two sub-groups: Information structure, sentence focus and the pragmatic effects of the passive constructions. The final part helps to see the relation between the passive constructions and other constructions in two languages based on the pragmatic effects of agent demotion and non- agent promotion. The research questions are as follows: Related to syntactic features, the research is to answer the following questions: + What are the typical patterns of the passive sentences and passive noun phrases in English and in Vietnamese? + Which parts are obligatory and optional ones in the passive expressions in two languages? +What are the differences in the obligatory and optional parts in the two languages? When the semantic features are in concern, the study is to focus on the following questions: + What are the extra meanings of Vietnamese passive markers? In addition, how do these markers decide the subjectivity and objectivity of passive constructions in Vietnamese? + What is the decisive role of Noun type (animate/inanimate subject) towards the formation of active/ passive expressions? More over, the differences in pragmatics are the answers for the following questions: + What factors in the theory of information structure, sentence focus decide the choice of passive/ active and passive/ other constructions in the two languages? + Which constructions are unified with the passive constructions based on the two major pragmatic effects: agent demotion and patient promotion in two languages? This aim is achieved from the comparison of each pragmatic effect in English passive construction with a number of Vietnamese equivalents. 3. Scopes of the study The research scope of the thesis is limited to the passive sentences and passive noun phrases. The data is taken from the following novels: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain and the Vietnamese translated version Cuéc phiªu l­u cña Tom Soy¬ by Nguþ Méng HuyÒn and Hoµng Ph­¬ng, Th©n phËn t×nh yªu by B¶o Ninh and the translated version - The Sorrow of War by Frank Palmos, Health Reports, Education Reports and Scientific Reports and the translated versions in Sunflower, Special English. 4. Methods of the study The main research methods include three techniques namely (1) description, (2) translation and (3) deduction. The descriptive and deductive approach is applied in the theory revision to come to the nature of passive voice in English and Vietnamese. The translation is used in the contrast of the English passive noun phrase/ the Vietnamese passive noun phrase and the pragmatic effect of the English passive/ Vietnamese equivalents 5. Design of the study The paper is divided into three main parts: introduction, development, and conclusion. Introduction - briefly introduces the rationale of the study, the aims of the study, scopes of the study and methods of the study. Development - has three chapters: Chapter one - Theoretical background starts with the concept of voice in general and passive voice in particular. Chapter two - Passive voice in English deals with the English passive. Chapter three - Vietnamese passive deals with the Vietnamese passive. Chapter four - The contrastive analysis points out the difference in English and Vietnamese passive constructions syntactically, semantically and pragmatically. The final part is to find out the factors decisive to the choice between Vietnamese passive constructions and other Vietnamese substitution structures. Conclusion - summazies the achievement in the thesis and offers some suggestions for father research.

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