Testing positive and negative language transfer through the use of factor analysis
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This paper attempts to verify the results of the first study in this series ( Hamed El Nil El Fadil, 1988) which extracted two factors from the scores obtained by 1 .544 subjects in their attempt to form five wh-questions. This first factor was interpreted as testing positive language transfer and the second factor as testing negative language transfer. In the present study 361 subjects, all native speakers of Arabic, were asked to answer a completion test. The scores obtained on the twenty nine morphemes to be completed were factor analysed. Two factors seem to have been extracted. The first factor seems to obtain significant loadings from the morphemes found in English and Arabic, while the second factor seems to obtain significant loadings from the morphemes found in English, but not in Arabic. The first factor was called positive language transfer factor, whereas the second actor was called negative language transfer factor. The paper concludes that factor analysis can be used in second language acquisition research to confirm or disprove a number of psychological constructs which are based on mere observation or speculation ( Selinker, 1974; Rutherford, 1 982 ).