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A Multifactorial Analysis of Can and May in Korean EFL Learners Writings*

 

 

Tae-Jin Yoon (Sungshin Women’s University)

Yong-hun Lee (Chungnam Nat'l Univ.·Hannam Univ.)

 

Yoon, Tae-Jin and Lee, Yong-hun. 2016. A Multifactorial Analysis of Can and May in Korean EFL Learners' Writings. English Language and Linguistics 22.1, 117-136. It is well known that can and may have similar meanings and that the choice of the modal auxiliary in the English sentences is not arbitrary in native speakers' writings. This paper compares the distributions of these two modal auxiliaries in the EFL learners' writings with those of native speakers and examines which factor made the Korean EFL learners' writings non-native. For this purpose, this study took the Competition Model (CM; Bates and MacWhitney, 1982, 1989) as a theoretical framework. We used two corpora (the Korean component of TOEFL11 corpus and the ICE-USA) and extracted all the sentences with can and may. Then, twenty factors were encoded in the extracted sentences, which were subsequently analyzed with R. The encoded data were statistically analyzed with (binary) logistic regression and Behavioral Profile. Through the analysis, the following facts were observed: (i) the uses and distributions of can and may in the Korean EFL learners' writings are similar to those of (American) native speakers' counterpart, (ii) three factors (SubjMorph, SubjPers, and Mood) make the Korean EFL learners' English non-native, and (iii) the L1 effects were also observed in spite of similarities in the use of the modal auxiliaries between Korean learners of English and native speakers of American English.

 

Key words: can, may, Competition Model, logistic regression, Behavioral Profile

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