Marking Definiteness in Farsi and English by Farsi Speaking EFL Learners

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Linköpings universitet/Institutionen för kultur och kommunikationFilosofiska fakulteten

Author: Parichehr Afzali; [2012]

Keywords: ;


Differences in marking definiteness among various languages have been considered one of the most confusing areas for speakers of different languages. As a teacher of EFL to Farsi speakers, I have frequently noticed that the students face problems when it comes to marking a definite or indefinite noun in English. One of the main objectives of the present study is to shed light on the trouble sources in practice of the use of articles in English among the subjects of my study. Farsi as a language which has two distinct registers of spoken and written forms with 9 various forms of definite/indefinite markers is different from English with 4 definite/indefinite markers. Students who speak some languages that lack these articles (such as Japanese), or probably do not have the one-to-one correspondence with definite marking system in English (such as Farsi), tend to face problems while using them in English.

It is believed that Farsi marks noun phrases for specificity/non-specificity rather than definiteness/indefiniteness, while English marks nouns for definiteness/indefiniteness. The present study shows interesting instances of the choices of article that Farsi native speakers make when it comes to marking definiteness in English. Definiteness is mostly marked by a bare noun, indefiniteness is marked by the numeral 'yek' (pre-positioned) or ye (pre-positioned) or suffix '-i' (i.e. one —post-positioned) and specificity can apply to both definite and indefinite NPs.

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