A Study of L2 English Inversion Structures by L1 Thai Learners

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The research investigated L1 Thai learners’ avoidance of English inversions after copular verb phrases and/or long subjects and negative adverbs. It was hypothesized that L1 Thai learners were likely to avoid producing English inversions due to the structure’s nonexistence in the learners’ mother tongue. The participants were a group of Thai undergraduate students whose English proficiency was intermediate. The research instrument consisted of a comprehension test, namely a test ensuring the subjects’ knowledge of the inversion structure, and an indirect preference assessment task or a task examining the participants’ preference between inverted sentences and non-inverted ones. Results showed that the L1 Thai subjects seemed to avoid the inversion structures after copular verb phrases and/or long subjects. Yet, they tended not to avoid using the inversion structures following negative adverbs, possibly due to their familiarity with the inversions, the simplicity of the structure, and the nature of the task in the study. The findings can be accounted for by the Factors of Non-Avoidance Hypothesis (FNAH). That is, when forms or structures in L2 learners’ native learners (NL) and target language (TL) are different or when an L2 structure does not exist in the learners’ L1, avoidance behavior might not occur. This would mean that other factors could possibly be influencing L2 learners’ non-avoidance.