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LINGUIST List 19.1633

Wed May 21 2008

Diss: Applied Ling/Lang Acq/Pragmatics: Zwanziger: 'Variability in ...'

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        1.    Elizabeth Zwanziger, Variability in L1 and L2 French WH-Interrogatives: The roles of communicative function, WH-word, and metalinguistic awareness


Message 1: Variability in L1 and L2 French WH-Interrogatives: The roles of communicative function, WH-word, and metalinguistic awareness
Date: 21-May-2008
From: Elizabeth Zwanziger <elizabeth.zwanzigeruni.edu>
Subject: Variability in L1 and L2 French WH-Interrogatives: The roles of communicative function, WH-word, and metalinguistic awareness
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Institution: Boston University
Program: Graduate Program in Applied Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2008

Author: Elizabeth Zwanziger

Dissertation Title: Variability in L1 and L2 French WH-Interrogatives: The roles of communicative function, WH-word, and metalinguistic awareness

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
                            Language Acquisition
                            Pragmatics

Subject Language(s): French (fra)

Dissertation Director:
Marnie Reed
Albert Valdman
Paul Hagstrom
Shanley E.M. Allen

Dissertation Abstract:

Research on variability in French interrogatives and the factors affecting
word order in questions has many foci, but largely centers around
socio-stylistic factors. In contrast, this dissertation explores two
under-investigated constraints on French questions: communicative function
and WH-element. The central questions address the effects of communicative
function and WH-word on the question variant selected by L1 and L2 French
speakers, and what role metalinguistic awareness plays in the question
structure produced.

A corpus of 1200 questions each for L1 (n=30) and advanced L2 (n=30) groups
was collected via a Discourse Completion Task crossing five communicative
functions (echo, presupposition, topic-introduction, rhetorical, and
self-addressed) and four WH-words (où, pourquoi, combien, and qui). Post
DCT, the participants were interviewed regarding metalinguistic knowledge
affecting their question forms. Responses in the form of questions were
analyzed for the effects of function, WH-word, and metalinguistic awareness.

Results suggest that communicative function and WH-element both play a role
in determining which question variants are more likely to be produced in
French questions. Clear patterns were seen in questions with certain
functions and WH-words either favoring or disfavoring particular question
types. Specific communicative functions and WH-elements were identified as
stronger or weaker in the role they play in this variation. The effects of
these constraints were evident in both L1 and L2 speakers with more robust
effects in the L1 group. Metalinguistic awareness responses focused upon
question variants in stylistic terms, and did not play a role in the
selection of question structure in relation to the two central constraints
of the study.

Findings from this study complement previous research on the variety of
constraints affecting form in L1 French interrogatives, contributing new
aspects to this body of work with implications for L1 and L2 pragmatics.
The fact that L2 French speakers also respect these previously unexplored
constraints, which are not consciously registered by L1 or L2 speakers,
implies that the stronger tendencies these constraints exercise on question
form also have pedagogical implications for the L2 French classroom,
providing guidelines that could aid L2 French speakers in more closely
approximating L1 use of questions.



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