Definite Article Errors and Effect of L1 Transfer
The present study investigates the type of errors English Second Language (ESL) Learners produce using the definite article “the”. The participants were provided a questionnaire on Learner's Ability Test. The questionnaire consists of three cloze tests and two free composition tests. Each participant's response was received in the form of written data. A total of 119 participants from three government schools participated in the study. The participants are high-school students from Rural Assam. Assam is a northeastern state of India. Their age ranged between 14-15. The medium of instruction and the communication among the students take place in the local language, i.e., Assamese. Pit Corder’s steps for conducting error analysis have been followed for the analysis procedure. Five types of errors were found (1) omission of the definite article before specific person, place and things (2) Omission of the definite article before unique objects (3) use of the definite article before modifiers such as adverb (4) incorrect use of the definite article with singular proper nouns (5) substitution of the definite article by the indefinite article “a” before the superlative adjective. Omission of the definite article “the” is the highest among the learners. It is found that native language (L1) transfer plays a pivotal role in the learners’ errors. Some errors are also due to the ESL learners’ overgeneralization. The analysis reveals the learners' inability to acquire the semantic connotation of definiteness in English due to native language (L1) interference.
Keywords - Definite Article Error, L1 Transfer, Error Analysis