Analysis Of Turkish Students' Morphological
And Syntactical Errors In Writing
by Ali Karakas
The second question in the exercise intends to elicit information about types of computer games that students like. When compared to the answers to the first questions, syntactic errors decreased in number in the following writing samples.
What kind of games do you like?
f.S1: The sentence 'I like adventure games' is syntactically in accordance with S-> NP VP.
g.S2: The answer 'I lowe racing games' is the same as the above one as regards to syntax (S->NP VP, VP->N N); however, the faulty word formation "lowe" roots in spelling error. This is a general error particularly among beginner and low intermediate students. The reason lies in that there are differences in the letters of the alphabet of both languages. Turkish does not include the letter "w", so students tend to use "w" interchangeably with "v" assuming that "w" is equated with the letter "v".
h.S3: This sentence 'My favourite computer game is online game' is a literal word by word translation from the student's L1. The learner should clarify the type of the game to make the sentence ambiguity-free by writing "my favourite type of computer game". Secondly, the noun in NP (online game) should be pluralized in order to form a morphologically right word in the sentence. The finalized version of the sentence is "My favourite type of computer game is online games".
i.S4: Only in this sentence, 'I like car race and war games', we have seen a conjunction used to join two NP phrases (NP conj NP). However, the first NP (car race) includes a morphological error, since there is no adjective noun agreement. It should be 'car racing'. The cause of this error is interlingual on the ground that thinking in L1 and then translating into L2 is a common habit among Turkish learners of English. The amended sentence is "I like car racing and war games".
j.S5: I like to adventure computer games. Except for this sentence, the other sentences appear to be syntactically correct obeying the phrase structure rules. However, some of them may semantically sound weird such as the one in
h. In this sentence, the addition of 'infinitive to' before a noun occurs again. This repetitious errors indicate that these learners could not grasp the rule that a transitive verb does not allow a 'to infinitive' to follow itself without another verb following 'to infinitive' and if the transitive verb is being followed by a noun, it does not require a 'to infinitive' in-between. The sentence is amended as "I like adventure computer games".
How often do you play games?
k.S1: I playing computer games sometimes. The sentence is flawed due to the addition of –ing participle to the main verb. The violation of VP disrupts the sentence structure syntactically. Another error is the misplacement of the frequency adverb 'sometimes' in the word order of the sentence. The frequency adverbs normally precede the main verbs and if there is no main verb, then it comes after an auxiliary. For example, I usually get up late and I am always late for school. The improved sentence should be "I sometimes play computer games".
l. S2: I play video games 3 times a week. This sentence is syntactically correct. The constituents of the sentence are an NP, a VP and an AdvP. Since the question asks for the frequency of the game play, the sentence enjoys an AdvP among its constituents.
m. S3: mc[I do once a month play game] sc[because I do generally homework.] Students who formulate a complex sentence tend to show more syntactic errors than those who form simple sentences. In MC, the inclusion of two main verbs (do and play) and the misplacement of AdvP both in the MC (once a month) and SC (generally) corrupt the syntactic correctness of the whole sentence. The addition of "do" is a habitual behaviour among Turkish EFL learners, which results from the inconsistencies of the rules in TL. While asking questions and negating sentences in present simple tense they are required to employ dummy 'do', but why not in affirmative sentences? SC, similar to the error in l, stems from misplacement of frequency adverb. Probably, S3 has not internalized the rules of placing frequency adverbs in the sentence in regards to word order. Moreover, the indiscrimination of plural and singular nouns, which causes a morphological problem, is encountered again in the NP "computer game". The amended sentence might be "I play computer games once a month because generally I do my homework".
n. S4: I play the game for two hours once a week. This sentence structurally appears to be syntactical. However, in NP, addition of a determiner is not sensible since game is not specified and therefore not definite. Accordingly, it should pluralized by adding the inflectional suffix –s to the noun "game". "I play games for two hours once a week" is suggested as the corrected form of the faulty sentence.
o. S5: I play computer game once a day. The sentence is syntactically correct but the phrase 'computer game' is morphologically incorrect since the plurality or singularity is not specified. It should be either 'a computer game' or 'computer games'. The addition of inflectional –s seems more reasonable in this case, "I play computer games once a day".
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