General programme, activity sheet

Friday 19 September, 2014 16:00 to 16:30 Oral presentation
Towards an encompassing view on L1 and L2 interface variability: A cognitive pragmatic perspective
Authors: José Amenós, Aoife Ahern

In this talk we will contribute data that indirectly suggests support for different approaches to the description of the particular characteristics of L2 processing: the shallow structure hypothesis Clahsen & Felser (2006), and for similar reasons, acquisition-by-processing perspectives such as those adopted by Van Patten (1996), which both emphasise the L2er’s tendency to rely more heavily on lexico-semantic and pragmatic cues than on syntax; and on the other hand, the Interface Hypothesis (IH) (Sorace & Filiaci 2006; Sorace 2011), which argues that the locus of difficulty and vulnerability in an L2 lies at the interfaces of different linguistic domains. Our data is related to the ability to interpret effects on sentence meaning of indicative/subjunctive mood contrasts in Spanish conditional and concessive constructions, measured through a 30-item multiple-choice interpretation task completed by L1 French (n=49) and L1 English (n=40) adult learners at B2 and C1 CEFR proficiency levels in formal learning contexts, as well as a native European Spanish control group (n=35). Mood interpretation in these environments requires identifying and relating contextual assumptions that licence one among several possible interpretations. As predicted by the IH, results show that integrating linguistic and discourse-pragmatic information is problematic for L2ers. No significant differences were found between the learner groups, nor among the proficiency levels. Our data also suggest the pre-eminence of lexico-semantic and pragmatic cues, in consonance with Van Patten and Clahsen & Felsers’ postulates. Nonetheless, integrating information from different domains is also problematic for native speakers; in the items tested, L1 speakers occasionally showed greater variation than the L2ers. To offer a coherent description of the variation attested in the different groups, we will discuss the advantages of adopting a perspective on the interaction of syntax, semantics, contextual assumptions and processing capacities based on cognitive pragmatics and, more specifically, on Sperber & Wilson’s (1986/1995) Relevance Theory.
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Paper session E
Place: Main Room

Other activities in Paper session E
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