General programme, activity sheet

Saturday 9 September, 2017 09:30 to 10:00

Oral presentation

Production and perception of focus in L1 Spanish/L2 Basque speakers

Speaker: Maria del Mar Vanrell Bosch, Universitat de les Illes Balears

Authors: Olga Fernández-Soriano & Maria del Mar Vanrell

It is generally assumed that, like other Romance languages (e.g., Catalan, Italian), Spanish resorts to syntactic movement to mark focus (Bolinger 1954, 1954-55, Büring & Gutiérrez-Bravo 2001, Zubizarreta 1998, among others). The specific strategies used to alter the canonical word order are apparently determined by focus type. Since informational focus must be in sentence-final-position to receive phrasal stress by means of the Nuclear Stress Rule (NSR) (Chomsky & Halle 1968, Zubizarreta 1998), in this language the non-focal material has to move to a non-canonical position, what is known as prosodically motivated movement or p-movement (see (1)). Interestingly, a variety of mechanisms are available for contrastive focus in Spanish: the focused constituent can be clefted (2b), fronted (2c) or remain in situ (2d). The focused constituent manzanas ‘apples’ in (2) is generally interpreted to bear the nuclear accent. From the phonological point of view, no intonational difference between information and contrastive focus has been reported so far (Estebas-Vilaplana & Prieto 2008, Hualde & Prieto 2015) and the deaccentuation of postfocal material in contrastive focus still remains under discussion (Cruttenden 1993, Swerts et al. 2002 among others, against Nadeu & Vanrell 2015). On the other hand, in Basque (which has canonical word order SOV), a focused phrase must be left-adjacent to the verb as in (3) and (4) (Arregi 2001) and, consequently, only a constituent in this position will be able to receive the main prosodic prominence (Elordieta & Hualde 2014). Typically, contrastive focus is characterized by a higher peak followed by a decreased pitch level in the postfocal material. Information focus can also be produced with this pattern but it can be often realized with no prosodic difference from broad focus. At the surface level neither focus domain (broad vs. narrow) nor focus type (information vs. contrastive) could be distinguished on the basis of syntactic order (Elordieta & Hualde 2014: 422-426). In this paper we explore the effect of contact between Spanish and Basque on the production and perception of focus. Specifically, we try to determine whether there is transfer from Basque to Spanish and, if so, which is the specific nature of this transfer (prosodic, pragmatic or syntactic). To this end, we created a corpus by presenting the participants with question-answer pairs based on short picture stories in a PowerPoint slide show. The questions were designed to elicit information and contrastive focus either on the subject or on the object. Speakers with different language profiles participated in the experiment: L1 Basque/L2 Spanish speakers, L1 Spanish/L2 Basque speakers and Madrid Spanish speakers. This production experiment was complemented with a judgment task experiment. Interesting results are obtained regarding the production of information focus by L1 Spanish/L2 Basque speakers, since they tend to resort to fronting when the object is under focus, see Figure 1 (which is a typical strategy in Basque). It is also interesting that intonation seems not to be affected by focus type, but by the position of the focused constituent (final vs. non-final). The results obtained in production are generally reproduced in perception, that is, the listeners rate the preferred strategies in production as sounding the most natural in perception. These and additional findings will be discussed in the light of recent insights in contact linguistics and second language acquisition.

Further information:

L2 acquisition / Others - Session V


Other activities in L2 acquisition / Others - Session V

09:00 h. to 09:30 h.

Oral presentation

Acquisition of passive and impersonal se by Dutch L2 learners of Spanish

Speaker: Sergio Baauw, Universiteit Utrecht

10:00 h. to 10:30 h.

Oral presentation

Interpreting evidentiality in non evidential languages: L2 Spanish by L1 French speakers

Speaker: Jose Amenos Pons, Universidad Complutense de Madrid

10:30 h. to 11:00 h.

Oral presentation

Pronominal Use in Late L1 Attrition and Near-native L2 Acquisition: The Case of Pro-drop L1 Bulgarian and Non-pro-drop L2 German

Speaker: Dobrinka Genevska-Hanke, Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg