The Acquisition of Arabic and English Relative Clauses by L2 English and Arabic Learners


  • Rawia Albikri
  • Marwan Jarrah



Relative clauses, markedness differential hypothesis, noun phrase accessibility hierarchy, sentence combination task, L2 learners


This study explored the acquisition of Arabic and English relative clauses by L2 English and Arabic learners. It examined the extent to which the Noun Phrase Accessibility Hierarchy (NPAH) (Keenan and Comrie 1977) and the Markedness Differential Hypothesis (MDH) (Eckman 1977) account for the acquisition of English and Arabic relative pronouns by English and Arabic L2 learners. Twenty Arabic-speaking learners of English and twenty English-speaking learners of Arabic were selected. To this end, four different tasks were used in this regard, namely the Sentence Combination task, the Multiple-Choice task, the Picture Description task, and the Grammaticality Judgement task. The results of this study showed that Arabic learners of English were able to comprehend and produce relative pronouns successfully. However, their performance was found to be affected by the system of relative pronouns of Arabic. For example, they were found better in producing who than whom. Additionally, the study found that the performance of Arabic learners of English was influenced by the type of the task (i.e., Sentence Combination Task is harder than the Multiple-Choice Task). On the other hand, the English-speaking learners of Arabic (i.e., the L2 Arabic group) produced and comprehended the Arabic relative pronouns easily despite their L1 language interference. The overall results showed that the NPAH and the MDH were able to predict the mistakes made by L2 learners of Arabic and English.


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How to Cite

Albikri , R. ., & Jarrah , M. . (2022). The Acquisition of Arabic and English Relative Clauses by L2 English and Arabic Learners . Dirasat: Human and Social Sciences, 49(5), 534–548.