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The hierarchy of Chinese grammar: A cross-sectional study of L2 Chinese within Processability Theory


  • Magnus Brolin

Summary, in English

Processability Theory (PT) is a well-established theoretical framework within the field of Second Language Acquisition, which describes the development of acquiring language as a process of acquiring procedural skills. The procedural skills are necessary for the learner being able to process different grammatical structures of the target language, and these are obtained by the learner through available input and the given learning device. The acquirement of procedural skills follows a hierarchy of grammatical processing procedures, an implicational pattern where each procedure is a prerequisite to the next.
PT has been applied to many different languages, there among Chinese. Previous PT-studies concerning second language acquisition of Chinese have explored the developmental processes of English L1 speakers, but so far, no studies regarding the developmental processes of Swedish L1 speakers have been done within the framework of PT. Hence, the aim of the present work is to evaluate whether Swedish L1 speakers´ developmental process of acquiring certain Chinese grammatical morphemes and structures correspond to the developmental stages found in earlier studies regarding English-speaking learners.
A cross-sectional research design consisting of two elicitation tasks was utilized. A total of 15 Swedish learners of Chinese with different language proficiency in the target language participated in the study. The collected data, consisting of the participants´ spontaneous speech production of the target language, was analyzed in the search for the emergence and the accuracy of using specific Chinese grammatical morphemes and structures.
Results indicate that Swedish L1 learners follow the same developmental processes of learning certain Chinese grammar as found in previous studies regarding English L1 learners. However, suggestions of altering the locations of certain grammatical structures in the PT-hierarchies established by previous research are discussed.


  • Master's Programme: Language and Linguistics

Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)


  • Languages and Literatures


  • PT
  • Processability Theory
  • Second Language Acquisition
  • SLA
  • Chinese
  • Mandarin
  • Swedish
  • grammar


  • Gisela Håkansson
  • Arthur Holmer (docent)