CONTRASTIVE Wh Question

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CONTRASTIVE LINGUISTICS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION ...............................................................................................................2
Rationale ..............................................................................................................................2
Aims of the study .................................................................................................................2
Scope of the study ................................................................................................................2
Methods of the study............................................................................................................2
1. Theoretical background ...................................................................................................3
1.1 Overview of question .....................................................................................................3
1.1.1 Definition of question .................................................................................................3
1.1.2 Functions of question ..................................................................................................3
1.1.3 Classification of questions ..........................................................................................4
1.2.2 Classification is Wh- questions ..................................................................................5
2. Wh- questions in English and in Vietnamese ..................................................................6
2.1 Wh- questions in English ...............................................................................................6
2.2 Wh- questions in Vietnamese ........................................................................................8
3. Comparison and contrast ...............................................................................................11
3.2 In terms of use of question words ................................................................................11
3.2 In terms of structure .....................................................................................................13
4. Applications ...................................................................................................................14
4.1 In learning and teaching ...............................................................................................14
4.2 In communication ........................................................................................................14
REFERENCES ..................................................................................................................15
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CONTRASTIVE LINGUISTICS
INTRODUCTION
Rationale
Question is one of the types of sentences used with high frequency in process of
learning, language teaching and in daily communication. It is so hard for us to keep
communication going well without asking questions Normally, people use it for asking or
checking information from others. In special cases, it can be used as a statement, a rejection
or a doubtful expression. In addition, sometimes people make question not only to get
information but also to use to greet each other in daily communication.
English wh-questions have long been the subject of the study of many researchers and
linguists. Each of them investigates some aspects of this type of questions. Their study on
English wh-questions have provided a great help for Vietnamese learners of
English. Although the purpose of questions in English and Vietnamese is the same, there
are a lot of differences between them. That’s the reason why leaners who study English
have problem in forming questions.
There are a lot of types of question: yes-no question, wh-question, alternative question, tag
question… but in this paper I would like to devote all my interest in wh-question in English
and its equivalence in Vietnamese in order to get more understanding of this type of
question and I am able to use it more flexibly and fluently.
Aims of the study
The study is carried out in order to:
-
Analyze and illustrate the types of wh- questions and their syntactic features
-
Propose several implications in teaching and using wh-questions
Scope of the study
Questions in general and wh-questions in particular are broad fields. However, in this
study, the researcher focuses on structural (and semantic) features of wh-question.
Methods of the study
A combination of different methods of analysis is used in his study. Firstly, the author
applies the descriptive method to find out the structure patterns of the English- Vietnamese
wh-questions. The study is conducted by carefully collecting materials from various
sources. Secondly, the contrastive approach is exploited to find out the similarities and
differences between the wh-question in the two languages.
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CONTRASTIVE LINGUISTICS
1. Theoretical background
1.1 Overview of question
1.1.1 Definition of question
There are several definitions of question. Question is a category used to classify sentences
based on communicative purpose. A question is a linguistic expression used to make a
request for information, or the request made using such an expression. According to the
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, published in 2009, “question is a sentence
or phrase that is used to ask for information or to test someone’s knowledge”.
Hoang Trong Phien states in his book “Vietnamese Grammar: sentence” that Question is a
kind of sentence used to classify sentences toward reality. A statement is of true category;
however, a question is of possible (Phien, 1980).
According to Le Quang Thiem, a Vietnamese linguist, “in daily communication an
interrogative sentence is used to require the unknown information” (p.222) and the signal
to recognize it easily is that “an interrogative sentence is a type of sentence which usually
asks a question word and a question mark (?)”.
Another definition of question is “A question is any sentence which has an interrogative
form or function.” (Kathleen Cotton – Classroom Questioning).
In summary, a question is an utterance which typically functions as a request for
information. Questions can thus be understood as a kind of illocutionary act in the field
of pragmatics or as special kinds of propositions in frameworks of formal semantics such
as alternative semantics or inquisitive semantics. (Wikipedia)
1.1.2 Functions of question
In verbal communication, questions can play the roles as communicative functions.
Questions, in both English and Vietnamese, is initially “used to ask” so as to help speakers
get the unknown information that they would like to know. Additionally, questions are
occasionally considered as a greeting, suggestion, a negation or affirmation, etc.
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CONTRASTIVE LINGUISTICS
In English, an interrogative sentence is a type of sentence which usually asks a question
and use a question mark. They typically begin with a question word such as what, who,
how… or an auxiliary verb such as do/ does, can or could, etc.
Examples:
What is your job?
Do you like apples?
He is handsome, isn’t he?
According to Le Quang Thiem, a question is also to find the information for what we have
not known or not understood yet (p.222)
Examples:
Mẹ đang nấu món gì vậy?
Anh làm công việc này được bao lâu rồi?
However, sometimes, in both English and Vietnamese, people make questions not for
seeking information but just greeting.
Example:
Hi! How are you?
Bác đi chợ về đấy à?
1.1.3 Classification of questions
There are many diferent points of view about classifying English as well asVietnamese
questions based on many alternative elements such as purpose, foundation, structure... In
“A University Grammar of English”, Feigenbaum (1985) points out only two types of
questions “Wh- question” which refers to learn the information and “Yes- No question”
which is to confirm the information (p.16). However, according to “English Grammar”,
Bui Y and Vu Thanh Phuong have mentioned four general types of an English question:
General questions (or Yes- No question), Special questions (or Wh- question), Alternative
questions, Question- tags. In “System in English Grammar”, Master (1996) devides
questions into four Yes- No questions, information questions, tag questions and echo
questions (p.136).
A little similar to English question, in the book “Vietnamese Grammar” written by
Vietnamese linguist Diep Quang Ban, Vietnamese question is classified into four types:
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CONTRASTIVE LINGUISTICS
Câu hỏi có từ nghi vấn (Wh- question), Câu hỏi lựa chọn (Alternative question), Câu hỏi
dùng ngữ điệu (Declerative question), Câu hỏi có từ chuyên dụng (Specialized copulative
question). However, with Le Quang Thiem, he simply categoeizes questions just into two
types: alternative questions and non-alternative questions. Therefore, when comparing
Vietnames and English questions, Le Quang Thiem synthesized into the following table:
LANGUAGE
VIETNAMESE
ENGLISH
Alternative questions
Non-
Question
Alternative
Non-
alternative
types
questions
alternative
questions
questions
Yes/ No
Alternative
WH-
questions
questions
questions
1.2 Overview of Wh- question
1.2.1 Definition of Wh- question
Nowadays, opinions about definition of information questions are various. In the book “A
University Grammar of English”, Randolph Quirk and Sidney Feigenbaum (1973)
suggested that information questions are those that expect a reply supplying an item
information. They call information questions Wh- questions that are formed by inserting
a wh- word into a sentence in the place of missing information and focus on particular parts
of sentences, not generally on the whole sentence the way that yes-no questions do.
This type of question gets its name from the fact that it usually begins with a ‘wh’ element
which we refer to as the ‘Q-word’ that is, the ‘question word’. Examples of the type of
question include:
What did you see in the house?
Where is the money you withdrew from the bank?
1.2.2 Classification is Wh- questions
Randolph Quirk and Sidney Feigenbaum (1973) in “A University Grammar of English”
classified the information questions into 3 types:
Subject questions
Object questions
Compliment questions
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CONTRASTIVE LINGUISTICS
Besides the classification of English information questions, according to some Vietnamese
linguists, we can also devide Vietnamese information questions into 3 types :
Câu hỏi chủ ngữ
Câu hỏi tân ngữ
Câu hỏi bổ ngữ
2. Wh- questions in English and in Vietnamese
2.1 Wh- questions in English
Information questions can be classified as three types of questions based on the following
table :
Types
Forms
Aims
word
Subject
Question
questions
subject + (auxiliary) +
Which
main verb
election?
word
+ Subject
Examples
Object
Question
+ Object
questions
auxiliary + subject +
Who broke the vase?
candidate
will
win
the
Which car have your sister buy?
Whom did you see last night?
main Verb
Compliment Question
questions
word
+ Place
Where is John going?
auxiliary + subject Time
When do you finish homework?
+main
Why do you refuse the offer?
verb
+ reason
compliment
Manner
How can she get there?
Along with the needed information, each question serves different function:
Question Words
Functions
Examples
asking for information about What have you learned from the
what
something
lesson?
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CONTRASTIVE LINGUISTICS
asking
for
repetition
or What? Sorry I can't hear you.
confirmation
You did what?
what...for/Why
asking for a reason, or purpose
What did she dress up for?
when
asking about time
When did the train arrive?
where
asking for location
Where do you live?
which
asking about choice
Which house do you rent?
asking what or which person or
who
Who went to the hospital?
people (subject)
asking what or which person or
whom
Whom did you see?
people (object)
whose
asking about possession
Whose are these bags?
why don't
making a suggestion
Why don't you give me a hand?
asking about manner
How does your mother look?
how
asking
about
condition
or
How was your final test?
quality
how + adj/adv
asking about extent or degree
How far is it from your house to
how far
asking about distance
school?
asking about duration
How long do you spend studying
(time or space)
English every day?
how long
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CONTRASTIVE LINGUISTICS
asking about quantity
how many
How many students are there?
(countable)
asking about quantity
how much
How much do you weigh?
(uncountable)
how old
asking about age
How old are you?
The most important component that helps to form Wh- questions is question words
(interrogative words). In linguistics, they symbolize the thing that we don’t know and they
are often called Wh- questions because most of them have the initial letters Wh-.
When the Wh- question is the subject of a verb, the word order of a question is usually the
same as that of a affirmative statement. The question is made by placing the wh-word into
the subject position. No other changes are needed to form a question except the question
mark.
e.g. I gave him a candy -> Who gave him a candy?
When the Wh- question is the object of a verb, the word order of a question differs from
that of an affirmative statement. In a question, the first auxiliary precedes the subject.
e.g. I’m cooking -> What are you doing?
2.2 Wh- questions in Vietnamese
Vietnamese Wh- questions can be formed by combining Question- words with particles
(nhỉ, hả, sao, ư, ạ) at the end of the questions to point out the relationship between the
speaker and addressee or to show our emotions.
In Vietnamese the structure of information questions changes, however, we can make a
conclusion that generally there are two main structures:
Q-word + S + +V+ O+ (particle)?
S + V+ O+ Q-word +(particle)?
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CONTRASTIVE LINGUISTICS
Examples
Mẹ đi du lịch bao nhiêu ngày ạ?
Hôm qua sao cậu không rủ tớ xem phim?
Khi nào em ra trường?
Vietnamese information questions can be also classified as three types of questions :
Types
Forms
Aims
Examples
Subject
Q-form + Predicative
Subject
Ai đã làm vỡ bình hoa thế?
Điều gì làm bạn buồn vậy?
questions
Object
subject + Verb + Q-
Object
Chị bạn mua xe loại gì?
questions
form
Compliment
Subject + Verb + Q-
Place, time,
John đang đi đâu vậy?
questions
form
reason,
Tại sao cậu lại từ chối công
Q-form + S + V
manner,
việc đó chứ?
S+ V + Q-form + N
supposition,
Cậu tính mua bao nhiêu thịt?
Tối qua anh đã gặp ai cơ?
quantity,
mean,
purpose
And each of them has different functions depending on what kinds of information we
want to ask for:
Question Words
Gì, cái gì
Functions
Examples
asking for information
Cậu học được gì/cái gì rồi
about something (Object)
nào?
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CONTRASTIVE LINGUISTICS
Cái gì
tại sao, vì sao, tại làm sao,
asking for information
Cài gì khiến bạn nổi giận
about something (subject)
thế?
asking for a reason
Sao hôm nay cô ấy mặc
đẹp thế?
tại vì sao, thế nào (mà), bởi
vì sao, sao mà, là thế nào
Để làm gì/Để làm gì
asking for purpose
Cậu mua cuốn sách này
làm gì?
Ở đâu/Đâu
asking for location
Bạn sống ở đâu?
Preposition (từ, lúc) + Khi
asking about time
Mẹ về từ lúc nào?
Bằng gì/Cách nào
asking about mean
Cậu về nhà cách nào?
Ai
asking what or which
Ai bị tông xe vậy?
nào /Bao giờ
person or people (subject)
Ai
asking what or which
Bạn nói chuyện với ai sáng
person or people (object)
nay?
Thế nào/Ra sao
asking about manner
Bạn trai cậu trông ra sao?
Bao nhiêu/Mấy
asking about quantity
Cậu có bao nhiêu tiền?
Bao xa/xa bao nhiêu
asking about distance
Từ nhà đến trường bao xa?
Bao lâu
asking about duration
Bạn học T.Anh bao lâu rồi?
To form Vietnamese information questions, we need interrogative words (or interrogative
pronouns) such as: ai (who/ whom), của ai (whose), gì (what), cái nào (which), khi
nào (when), đâu, ở đâu (where), như thế nào, bằng cách nào (how), vì sao, tại sao, thế
nào (why), bao nhiêu (how much, how many), bao lâu (how long), etc.
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CONTRASTIVE LINGUISTICS
Interrogative pronouns are the integral parts of information questions in Vietnamese. Their
position stays flexible. They can appear first, in the middle or at the end of the questions.
Their position is based on the grammatical differences or meaning of tenses. According to
professor Cao Xuân Hạo, their positions may follow some below situations:
Positions
Question words
Examples
Beginning of the
Sao, vì sao, tại sao
Sao anh ấy không đến nhỉ?
sentences
Bao giờ, khi nào, hôm nào (future
Khi nào anh trở lại?
tense)
End of the
Ra sao, thế nào
Sức khỏe nó sao rồi?
sentences
Bao giờ, khi nào,(past tense)
Anh trở lại khi nào?
Before
ai, gì, đâu, bao nhiêu (subject)
Ai đang nói xấu gì mình đây?
ai, gì, đâu, bao nhiêu (compliment)
Cậu đang nói xấu ai đó?
predicates
After predicates
3. Comparison and contrast
3.2 In terms of use of question words
Wh- questions in English and Vietnamese share some common features. Firstly, most of
question words in Vietnamese and English information question have the same functions.
English Question Words
Vietnamese Question Words
what
Gì/Cái gì
Why
Tại sao/Vì sao/Sao
What…for
Để làm gì
when
Khi nào/Bao giờ
where
Ở đâu/Đâu
which
Nào/Cái nào
Who/Whom
Ai
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CONTRASTIVE LINGUISTICS
whose
Của ai
why don't
Tại sao không
how
Bằng cách nào
how long
Bao lâu
how far
Bao xa
how many/How much
Bao nhiêu/Mấy
how old
Bao nhiêu tuổi
Wh-words in both two languages have the form of reduction and they can be a single word
or a group of words, for instance, who (ai), what ( cái gì), where ( ở đâu); what for (để làm
gì), why not (tại sao không), where to (tới đâu). Moreover, reason adjuncts in both
languages such as why (tại sao), for what reason (vì lý do gì), for which reason (vì lý do
nào) usually stand at the beginning of the sentence and function as an adverb.
Why do you drink too much coffee?
Tại sao anh uống nhiều cà phê vậy?
For what reasons did you leave school early?
Vì lý do gì mà bạn nghỉ học sớm?
However, in English the interrogative word “when” only appears in the beginning of the
sentence and time in the answer depends on the tense used, for example,
A: When are you going to get married?
A: When did you get married?
B: Next year
B: Two years ago.
On the contrary, in Vietnamese the words such “ khi nào, bao giờ, lúc nào” are put both at
the beginning and the end of the sentence. When standing at the beginning, they indicate
that the action will happen; and in the case of being placed at the end, they show us that
the action happened. This is also a typical feature in Vietnames grammar.
A: Khi nào em tốt nghiệp đại học? (in the future)
B: Sang năm.
A: Em tốt nghiệp đại học khi nào? (in the past)
B: Năm ngoái.
In addition, when asking about means of transport, in English we use “How” ( như thế
nào); but in Vietnamese we say “ By what” ( bằung phương tiện gì). For instance, an
English will ask “How do you go to your office?”. Meanwhile, a Vietnamese says “ Anh
đi làm bằng phương tiện gì ?”. This grammar point is small, but it may cause problems to
English beginners.
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CONTRASTIVE LINGUISTICS
Additionally, the productiveness of English information questions is much less than
Vietnamese ones. Only one English questions word can be translated into a lot of
Vietnamese question words
Eg. “Why” in Vietnamese equivalence may be these words “tại sao”, “vì sao ( mà)”,
“tại làm sao”, “tại vì sao” “thế nào (mà)”, “bởi vì sao”, “sao mà”, “là sao”, “là thế nào”,
“do đâu”, “vì đâu”, “vì cái gì”
Eg. “What” in Vietnamese equivalence may be these words “cái gì”, “điều gì”,
“chuyện gì”, “việc gì”
3.2 In terms of structure
When the question words are the subjects of the information questions in Vietnamese and
English, both of them are formed based on the structure: Q-word + V + O. In other words,
the word orders in both questions are the same and the question words are located at the
beginning of the sentences
Eg. Ai ngồi kế bên bạn? → Who sits next to you?
Eg. Điều gì đã xảy ra trong ngôi nhà giàu có ấy? → What happensed to the rich family?
However, the location of the interrogative words in English and Vietnamese information
questions is as different as chalk and cheese. In Vietnamese information questions, the
position of the questions words is not always at the beginning of the questions like in
English. In English information questions, the Wh-words always come first under any
circumstances, their position is unchanged while Vietnamese question words jump all the
time.
Eg. In English What stands at the beginning of the question: What does he want?
In Vietnamese gì stands at the end of the question: Cậu ta muốn gì?
Eg. What did books have to do with them?
In Vietnamese gì stands in the middle of the question:
Những người không học hành cần gì đến sách vở?
Furthermore, the elements that we use to make the information questions in Vietnamese
and English are somehow not the same. In English information questions, auxiliaries are a
must, but it is unnecessary in Vietnamese ones. Additionally, verbs play an important role
in English, that’s why we must take subject-verb agreement into consideration while we
are unconcerned with Vietnamese verbs. And to express our feeling, attitude, in
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CONTRASTIVE LINGUISTICS
Vietnamese we use particles such as “ạ, hử, hả, nhỉ, ấy, đó, thế, etc”, but in English we use
intonation and stress instead, when we ask for something using information questions, we
lower our voices at the end of the questions. Some traditional grammar books state that
English information questions emphasize on correct grammar and the word order in
contrast with Vietnamese ones which focus on meaning rather than grammar.
4. Applications
4.1 In learning and teaching
Firstly, form this small research, students have a chance to build up their own step-by-step
construction on how to create information questions. Therefore, the eagerness towards
learning will come to them spontaneously and the atmosphere classroom becomes more
friendly, learning and teaching English information questions are no longer a burden for
student as well as teacher.
Secondly, there are two requirements for students when they learn to ask information
questions: the choice of correct words and the word orders for different types must be
learned. As student learn to practice these features of information questions, they are
definitely confused about which words or structures are acceptable or unacceptable. They
will sometimes make it right, not very right and wrong along with fluency and accuracy as
this is a natural condition when learning English.
Finally, some communicative speaking activities encourage students take full advantage
of information questions, especially in different social contexts. This means that teacher is
responsible for creating as many opportunities as possible to help students practice asking,
answering, giving, receiving more English information questions. Progressively, students
have much confidence in speaking English in real life.
4.2 In communication
Because there is no intonation in Vietnamese, Vietnamese people tend to speak
English like the way they speak Vietnamese, with a flat intonation. Somehow they have
an improper intonation when speaking English in different contexts. Having no intonation
or have a wrong intonation will make the communication boring and the listeners will
feel uncomfortable or misunderstand. Therefore, speakers of the two languages, by
studying the structure of wh- question in the other language, can recognize and use the whquestions effectively and avoid misunderstanding.
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CONTRASTIVE LINGUISTICS
REFERENCES
Ban, D. Q. (2002). Ngữ pháp Tiếng Việt (tập 2). HCM City: Education Publishing House.
Donald C. Orlich et. al. (1980). Teaching Strategies: A Guide to Effective Instruction.
Cengage
English club. (2011). Wh- question words. Retrieved December 15th, 2011
Foley, M. & Hall, D. (2008). Advanced learners' grammar. London: Longman.
Greenbaum, S. & Quirk, R. (1976). A university of grammar. London: Longman
Hand, L. (2011). Simple guide to asking questions in English. Retrieved December 15th,
2011 from http:// www. learnenglish.de/grammar/questiontext.htm
Phien, H.T. (1980) Ngữ pháp tiếng Việt: Câu. Universities and professional schools
publishing house
Thiem, L. Q. (2004). Nghien cuu doi chieu cac ngon ngu. Ha Noi: Ha Noi National
University Publisher.
http:// www. englishclub.com/vocabulary/wh-question-words.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Question
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