The Relative Clause Revisited: A Novel Approach to Error Analysis

Ruqayyah Herzallah, Nabil Alawi


Negative interference from a mother language is said to be one of the major sources of errors committed by learners of a foreign language.  Due to this interference, it is our belief that mere analysis and finding of differences between the languages concerned are inadequate. Therefore, the present research is engaged in giving a more profound approach to deal with errors in general, and one of the commonest errors committed by Palestinian Arabic speakers learning English, in particular: namely, relative pronoun deletion from the subject position of the relative pronoun.  Building on certain linguistic constructs and rules, as well as an enlightened pedagogical account, the absence of the subject relative pronoun is given a new perspective. Our account addresses both teachers’ and students’ cognitive linguistic knowledge to eradicate the problem at hand. Our approach to the problem which is thus interdisciplinary, helps students in the acquisition of complex structures like that of the relative clause and can be a model to be followed in tackling other problems in foreign language learning and teaching.


Constraints; Rules; Relative Clause; C-Command

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