Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info


New from Oxford University Press!

ad

Oxford Handbook of Corpus Phonology

Edited by Jacques Durand, Ulrike Gut, and Gjert Kristoffersen

Offers the first detailed examination of corpus phonology and serves as a practical guide for researchers interested in compiling or using phonological corpora


New from Cambridge University Press!

ad

The Languages of the Jews: A Sociolinguistic History

By Bernard Spolsky

A vivid commentary on Jewish survival and Jewish speech communities that will be enjoyed by the general reader, and is essential reading for students and researchers interested in the study of Middle Eastern languages, Jewish studies, and sociolinguistics.


New from Brill!

ad

Indo-European Linguistics

New Open Access journal on Indo-European Linguistics is now available!


Email this page
E-mail this page

Review of  Discourse Across Languages and Cultures


Reviewer: Manuela Maria Wagner
Book Title: Discourse Across Languages and Cultures
Book Author: Carol Lynn Moder Aida Martinovic-Zic
Publisher: John Benjamins
Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis
Pragmatics
Typology
Cognitive Science
Subject Language(s): Chinese, Mandarin
Dutch
English
French
Hebrew
Japanese
Korean
Portuguese
Spanish
Turkish
Urdu
Serbian
Book Announcement: 16.1786

Discuss this Review
Help on Posting
Review:


Date: Sun, 5 Jun 2005 22:02:41 -0400
From: Manuela Wagner <manuela.m.wagner@uconn.edu>
Subject: Discourse Across Languages and Cultures

EDITORS: Moder, Carol Lynn; Martinovic-Zic, Aida
TITLE: Discourse Across Languages and Cultures
SERIES: Studies in Language Companion
PUBLISHER: John Benjamins Publishing Company
YEAR: 2004

Manuela Wagner, Foreign Language Education, University of
Connecticut

[This is a revised version of the review of "Discourse Across
Languages and Cultures" in issue 16-1712. --Eds.]

INTRODUCTION

"Discourse Across Languages and Cultures" edited by Carol Lynn
Moder and Aida Martinovic-Zic provides topics as diverse as text
linguistics, discourse marker use, interlanguage pragmatics,
comparisons of descriptions of how people move, discourse and
expression of culture in cooking shows in America and Japan,
intertextuality in academic, journalistic and advertising discourse,
genre and modality, and analyses of texts as image schemas, to name
a few examples. As Moder suggests in the introductory chapter, these
topics are investigated with various different types of analyses and
research paradigms opening up the dialogue between these
disciplines.

SYNOPSIS

Chapter 1: Introduction, by Carol Lynn Moder
In the introductory chapter, Moder explains the framework of the book
by laying out the concepts that are central to the discussion of each
topic. Moder claims that historically, we viewed culture from different
disciplines without taking the step of conducting interdisciplinary
research. Moder takes a look at the development of Contrastive
Rhetoric, Rhetorical Typology, Discourse Analysis, and Translation
Studies inviting the reader to a journey from the beginnings of the
studies to current developments. She sees the current book as the
beginning of the dialogue between these disciplines, in order to move
from answering specific questions from a particular perspective to
answering broader theoretical questions.

Chapter 2: Holistic textlinguistics, by Robert E. Longacre
In chapter 2, Longacre introduces textlinguistics "as the completion
and fulfillment of linguistics" since it "knits up many loose ends left
from morphosyntax" (p. 13). Longacre analyses the novel "The Final
Diagnosis" by Arthur Hailey (1959) with regard to interrelationships of
textual factors. The components of analysis are "text type and its
template, constituents of text, constraints as constituents, and exit to a
morphosyntax informed by…" the three latter components (p. 34),
Longacre starts out with the narrative template from the "inciting
incident" to the "mounting tension to climax" and finally to
the "denouement" (p.14). He argues that higher level structures, such
as the template, are tied in with the level of sentence, clause and
phrase. The author shows that the narrative text and paragraph
consist of "recursive units". At the microanalysis level, Longacre
shows functions of adverbs as transition markers in narrative texts,
explores dialogic paragraphs, explaining why they move the storyline
further ahead, shows how dialogue is integrated with other types of
presentation in the narrative, and reveals how paragraphs encode
reflection. Through his analysis, Longacre demonstrates that different
strands of the storyline are part of the main plot while others mainly
provide additional information indicating the interrelatedness of
morphosyntax and higher level structure in the novel. The author
suggests that textlinguistics should be introduced to students of
linguistics at an earlier point because of its explanatory power of
issues in morphosyntax.

Chapter 3: Discourse effects of polysynthesis, by Wallace Chafe
In chapter 3, Chafe reports findings of comparative analyses of two
languages, English and Seneca, the latter being a highly endangered
Iroquoian language spoken in three separate reservations in western
New York State. Chafe shows how these two languages differ in the
concepts as well as in how these concepts, which he calls "ideas", are
expressed. He differentiates between three different types of ideas:
1) "ideas of events and states", 2) "ideas of people and things" which
are called "referents", and 3) "larger chunks of information" which he
calls "topics" (p. 39). We learn that Seneca does not have a copula or
prepositions. By translating sentences from English into Seneca,
Chafe illustrates that ideas are represented as intonation units in
spoken language and that prefixes mark events with the perfective
aspect as factual, expected to become a fact or as a possibility to
become a fact. This example shows that Seneca speakers
automatically relate any event to how it refers to reality, whereas in
English we rather mark events within a timeframe. Another feature of
Seneca is the presence of polysynthetic or holistic verbs, "holistic in
the sense of including the participants within the same word" (p. 44)
whereas English usually provides additional information about
participants. Through his analysis, Chafe illustrates that the different
characteristics in the morphologies of English and Seneca influence
discourse patterns in both languages.

Chapter 4: Prosodic Schemas: Evidence from Urdu and Pakistani
English, by Rebecca L. Damron
In chapter 4, Damron investigates prosodic schemas, i.e. the form and
function of prosody, in Urdu and Pakistani English. The questions
addressed in the study are: "How is prosody used cognitively by the
conversational participants?", "Do the participants rely on formulaic or
schematic structures which are culturally determined, or do they rely
on universal prosodic signals in the outline processing of language in
interaction?" (p. 58). The two languages were chosen because of
their differences in morphosyntax, although they are spoken in the
same culture. Results were compared to work completed in American
English prosody. The recordings in Urdu and Pakistani English were
divided in intonation units. Analysis showed that Urdu used a higher
mean number of words per intonation unit than Pakistani English. A
comparison to results in Chafe's (1994) study also showed that
Pakistani English used more words than American English, which
Damron interprets as indication that there are factors other than
morphosyntax influencing length of intonation units. Moreover,
analyses showed that Urdu contained a high percentage of multi-
clausal units. Both Pakistani English and Urdu were characterized by
level pitch at the end of intonation units and contained no regular
nuclear accent. Pauses were used to define intonation boundaries.
When analyzing the functions of the intonation units, Damron found
that multi-clause intonation units contained more than one idea. This
contradicts Chafe's (1994) One New Idea Constraint, stating that each
multi-clause intonation unit contained only one new idea. Finally,
Damron investigates topicalization issues and finds that in both
languages contrastive topicalization is set up in a similar way. By
comparing the current study to previous studies, the author presents a
possible model of prosodic schemas in relation to cultural aspects and
to short-term and long-term working memory.

Chapter 5: Rhetorical relations in dialogue: A contrastive study, by
Maite Taboada
Taboada investigates 60 conversations between two speakers who
were trying to complete a task consisting of either accepting or
rejecting a date, 30 in Spanish and 30 in English. The author follows
Rhetorical Structure Theory analysis, thereby applying rhetorical
relations to spoken language. One presupposition is that the text, in
this case the dialogue, is functionally and hierarchically organized. In
the turn-by-turn analyses, the author shows that genre and politeness
influence the rhetoric structure, creating repeated patterns in turns
with the same purpose. The distributions of relations are very similar
in the Spanish and English conversations. In the 'conversation-as-a-
Whole-Analyses' Taboada focuses on the main purpose of the
conversations, from the macro-level moving toward the lower levels.
The latter does not necessarily restrict analyses to the turn-by-turn
analyses. Results show very similar relations in the English and
Spanish conversations, except for one difference that illustrates that in
the Spanish data previous utterances are more often repeated.
Finally, the author explores the script of the conversations referring to
Schegloff and Sacks's (1973) work. The stages found in the current
data are initialization, task-performance, and closing. Analyses reveal
that in Spanish conversations initializations and closings are longer
than in the English conversations, while the structuring of the three
stages is similar in both languages. The author shows that subject
matter, aspects of different stages in dialogues, as well as politeness
rules have an effect on rhetorical relations. Taboada wonders whether
the rather small cross-linguistic differences might be due to the fact
that the two language groups performed the task in the US.

Chapter 6: Interlanguage Pragmatics: Apology speech acts, by Euen
Hyuk (Sarah) Jung
In chapter 6, Jung compares apology speech act performances of ten
native speakers of English and ten advanced Korean learners of
English as a Second Language. The apology strategies considered
were Expression of Apology, Explanation, Acknowledgement of
Responsibility, Offer of Repair and Promise of Non-recurrence. Data
was elicited through role-plays using the two situations of not showing
up to a friend's party and not showing up for an appointment with a
professor in order to include factors such as social distance. The two
language groups produced three types of apologies: native English
apologies, non-native English apologies, and native Korean apologies.
Analyses showed that the two groups used Expression of Apology
similarly in quantity in both situations. However, Korean learners of
English used different linguistic expressions, such as: "Can you
forgive me?". Native English speakers and Korean speakers of
English as a Second Language used the Explanation strategy to the
same degree in both situations.

However, differences occurred in how Korean learners expressed
these Explanations in English. They used more words, which Jung
interprets as indication of their confidence in their linguistic ability,
while they might lack confidence in their communicative effectiveness.
While both groups used the Acknowledgement of Responsibility
strategy similarly in their L1 in both situations, Korean learners of
English did not acknowledge their responsibility to the same degree in
English when they apologized to their friend. Interestingly, Korean
learners of English used this strategy when apologizing to their
professor in English as much as the native English speakers. Another
difference was that while Korean learners of English used the Offer of
Repair strategy in their L1 in the first situation (apology to a friend)
they did not use this strategy nearly as much in English in both
situations. In the second situation this might be due to their lower use
of this strategy in L1. Both groups made rare use of the Promise of
Non-recurrence strategy in their L1 in the first situation (apologizing to
a friend). Korean learners of English did not use this strategy in their
L2 either. When apologizing to their professor, Korean learners of
English used this strategy to a much a higher degree in their L1 than
native English speakers. However, they used this strategy to the same
extent as the native English speakers in their L2. Jung concludes by
addressing the implications of this study for classroom practitioners.

Chapter 7: Discourse marker use in native and non-native English
speakers, by Hikyoung Lee
In chapter 7, Lee investigates discourse markers in colloquial speech
of Korean immigrants who were either first-generation speakers,
having immigrated to the US after the age of 18, 1.5 generation
speakers who immigrated to the US before the age of 18, or second-
generation speakers who were born in the US of ethnic Korean
parents. Discourse markers that were used as hesitation markers or
fillers, that had a grammatical function, or that occurred with very low
frequency, were not included in the analysis. In contrast to prior
studies, Lee did not find gender differences in the use of discourse
markers. However, analyses revealed differences between
generations. While all three groups showed an awareness of
discourse markers, the 1.5 generation speakers used discourse
markers most. Lee interprets this as possible overgeneralization of
discourse marker use. The lower rate of first generation Korean
speakers of English might indicate that English language learners are
not yet aware of the pragmatics of this particular feature. Analyses of
interactions of variables showed some different patterns, such as
gender or generation differences, in the use of particular discourse
markers.

Chapter 8: Discourse markers across languages: Evidence from
English and French, by Suzanne Fleischman and Marina Yaguello
Fleischman and Yaguello examine the discourse marker "like" in
English and "genre" in French with regard to their function. A
description of the history of "like" and "genre" reveals that "like"
1) has been dealt with in literature more,
2) is more frequently used, and
3) appears to be syntactically more flexible than "genre".

Fleischman and Yaguello continue with an exploration of pragmatic
functions of the two discourse markers in question. The functions
include "focus", i.e. marking the information coming to the right of it as
focal, "hedge", i.e. signaling that the information should not be taken
literally, "elaboration, justification, explanation", "interpretative
quotative" making segments "look like reported speech", "quoted
thought", "quoted attitude", and "ironic quotation" (p.135). Next, the
authors examine the development of the two markers in their
respective languages, showing that the "quotative" function of the two
discourse markers is "a natural extension" of the "focus" marker
function. Fleischman and Yaguello claim that the current case study of
the two discourse markers that have relatively similar functions, but
have developed these functions independently, might leave room for
hypotheses about the pathways of pragmaticalization for discourse
markers across languages.

Chapter 9: Intertextuality across communities of practice: Academics,
journalism and advertising, by Ron Scollon
In chapter 9, Ron Scollon describes three types of discourse--
academic writing, journalism, and advertising-- with regards to three
characteristics: discourse representation, production formats, and
stance within the community of practice. Discourse representation is
used to refer to quotations, citations, or "representing discourse within
discourses" (p. 151). For production format, Scollon uses Goffman's
(1974; 1981) framework distinguishing between "author" (the one who
produces wordings of a text), the "animator" (who produces the actual
text as a physical entity), and the "principal" (who takes responsibility
for what is said in the text). Scollon shows that while all three types of
discourse represent discourse to some extent, there are differences in
quantity and in the manner how the citations and quotations are used.
Academic discourse, for known reasons, is concerned most with citing
the correct sources. Scollon shows that, in journalism, citations are
used more frequently but with fewer linguistic representations. In
advertising discourse representation is a more complex issue. A look
at the production format reveals that whereas there usually is a unity
of author, animator and principal in academic discourse, this is usually
not the case in journalism, and even less so in advertising practice. In
journalism, journalists position themselves outside of the public
discourse, whereas in advertising the author provides eight different
scenarios of production format. The last aspect, i.e. stance within the
community of practice, plays an important role in academic research.
Researchers carefully position themselves as legitimate members of
the academic community, whereas in journalism authors distance
themselves from the text, and in advertising the ownership of the idea
plays a minor role compared to the marketability of ideas.

Chapter 10: Genre as a locus of social structure and cultural ideology:
A comparison of Japanese and American cooking classes, by Patricia
Mayes
In chapter 10, Mayes conducts a cross-cultural comparison of
Japanese and American cooking classes investigating the level of
formality of languages, the content of talk, and the participants'
reported reasons to take the cooking class. Mayes claims that these
two situations represent comparable genres in that they have a similar
exigence, i.e., "they are solutions to similar communicative problems"
(p. 179). Mayes shows that in Japanese cooking classes participants
used a more formal style which was mainly expressed in the different
types of honorifics used by the cooking class instructors, thus creating
a formal relationship between the participants and themselves. Since
English does not have such a level of grammaticalization of social
rules, Mayes claims that it is a more complicated matter to investigate
the style used. The author uses patterns associated with informal face-
to-face situations, such as hedges, emphatics, amplifiers,
contractions, demonstrative pronouns, and discourse particles. She
found that these were used more frequently in American cooking
classes, therefore implying that these classes were held in a more
informal style. Mayes argues that this informal style was reinforced by
the fact that more content that was not related to the task, such as
personal anecdotes and gossip, was introduced in the American
cooking classes, thus contributing to a more casual atmosphere. The
author reports that in the Japanese classes the instructors focused
exclusively on task-oriented language. This was also reflected in the
students' reasons to participate in the class, which were primarily task-
oriented, whereas American students reported reasons such as
meeting people and being entertained in addition to wanting to learn
how to cook. In conclusion, Mayes shows that by comparing genres
across cultures, "we can gather insights about culture as it is
instantiated in social structure and reflected in language" (p.191.)

Chapter 11: How people move: Discourse effects of linguistic typology,
by Dan I. Slobin
In chapter 11, Slobin presents findings of investigations of verbs and
associated elements that describe how people move by 1) comparing
a chapter of The Hobbit (Tolkien, 1937) in various languages that
have been shown to be different in terms of their description of
motion, 2) eliciting narrations of a story in response to a series of
pictures, in this case "the frog story", 3) looking at newspaper stories
reporting the same event in different languages, and 4) applying the
methods used for the texts of the Hobbit to further novels in different
languages. Slobin differentiates between verb-framed and satellite-
framed languages. The main element of motion is the PATH which is
expressed by the verb in French and by particles such as "in"
and "out", also called satellites, in English. Therefore, English
represents a "satellite-framed language" whereas French is a "verb-
framed language". In his translation analyses, Slobin focuses on verbs
that describe the MANNER of movement, like "run, crawl, stroll" and
the like. Results indicate that satellite-framed languages have
developed verbs that describe manner of movement in a more
differentiated way than verbs in verb-framed languages. Slobin shows
that translators have difficulties finding the right translation for these
verbs in verb-framed languages, such as French and Spanish.
Furthermore, the author explains how languages accommodate this
phenomenon. Examples are neutralization and omission when
translating from satellite-framed languages into verb-framed
languages and addition of manner verbs when translating into satellite-
framed languages. Analyses of oral descriptions of the frog story
reveal that speakers of different ages of verb-framed languages
mainly used path verbs without a verb particle, whereas speakers of
satellite-framed languages used manner verbs in combination with a
verb particle, such as "out". A similar pattern of manner verbs and
path verbs was found in the newspaper accounts in the different
languages. In both, the narrations of the frog story and in the
newspaper stories, satellite-framed languages had a higher repertoire
of verbs than verb-framed languages. As a next step, Slobin applies
the coding scheme used for the study of "The Hobbit" to analyze
seven novels each in the satellite-framed languages Russian and
English, and in the verb-framed languages Spanish and Turkish.
Results clearly indicate that satellite-framed languages use a
significantly higher number of manner verb types than verb-framed
languages even when phrasal verbs were included. Finally, Slobin
shows that these differences can also be found in corpora of English,
Spanish, and Turkish conversations and in parent-child discourse.
The results confirm Slobin's proposal that satellite-framed languages
pay more attention to manner of motion than verb-framed languages,
indicating that these languages underlie typologies that influence how
speakers of these two types of languages conceptualize motion
events.

Chapter 12: Why manner matters: Contrasting English and Serbo-
Croatian typology in motion description, by Jelena Jovanovic and Aida
Martinovic-Zic
In chapter 12, Jovanovic and Martinovic-Zic investigate the two
satellite-framed languages Serbo-Croatian and English according to
their lexicalization of motion by analyzing the use of motion verbs in
the frog story naturalistic data of three age groups (5 years, 9 years,
adults) of Serbo-Croatian and American English speakers. The
difference between the two languages is that English uses verb-
particles and Serbo-Croatian uses prefixes which are added to the
verb root to encode path and direction in motion. Therefore, the
authors call English "free-particle satellite-framed language" and
Serbo-Croatian "prefixed satellite-framed language". The questions
addressed in the study are: how structural/morphological and lexical
differences in Serbo-Croatian and English contribute to manner of
motion verb types and frequencies, and how grammatical aspect
relates to the notion of manner in the two languages. Motion verbs
were organized as follows: 1) 'bare motion verbs', 2) 'motion + path
verbs', and 3) 'motion + manner verbs'. The authors found few
differences between the variety and number of types of 'bare motion
verbs' and 'motion + path verbs' in the two languages. More significant
differences were found in the use of motion and manner verbs, with
speakers of Serbo-Croatian using more types and tokens than English
speakers. Thus, the hypotheses that Serbo-Croatian might have more
tokens of 'motion + path verbs' than English and fewer types of
manner of motion verbs were not confirmed. When examining aspect
in manner of motion verbs, analyses revealed that Serbo-Croatian
speakers produced more types of motion verbs marking aspect, and
that verbal morphology marked aspect in various ways. Translations
of manner of motion verbs showed that a number of motion verbs
were not translatable from one language to the other. More frequently
this was the case for English verbs. Qualitative analyses also revealed
a higher amount of semantic clustering of manner of motion verbs in
English than in Serbo-Croatian. While not all hypotheses were
confirmed, the authors showed some differences within satellite-
framed languages in aspect-mediated motion.

Chapter 13: Episodic boundaries in Japanese and English narratives,
by Mary Seig
Seig studied the episodic structure of narratives at the example of the
picture book Frog, Where are you? by Mercer Mayer (1976). The
main goals of the study were to examine 1) the linguistic devices used
to mark episode boundaries and 2) the perception of production in
Japanese and English in these two formats. The subjects consisted of
fifty American and fifty Japanese university students who were either
asked to tell the story from the book (book format) or by seeing the
pictures on a long roll of paper (scroll format) in their first language,
Japanese or English. Through coding each transcript for intonation
units that would mark episode boundaries, analyses revealed similar
patterns of the following aspects with regard to their relation in the
episode: 1) intonation units, 2) the position of frontal adverbial
clauses, 3) reference to the boy character, 4) reference to the dog
character, and 5) reference to the frog character. Seig found eight
linguistic devices indicating boundaries of episodes in her data.
Differences between the book and the scroll formats were only found
in the length of intonation units. In other words, both English and
Japanese narrators used more intonation units in the book format. A
measure of the number of words showed that, on average, English
speakers used more words than Japanese speakers. In both
languages books stories consisted of more words than scroll stories,
and English scroll stories consisted of more words than Japanese
book and scroll stories. In the analyses of typological variation, Seig
found some similarities in the frontal adverbial clauses with regard to
their "percentage-per-picture" and their "ratio of occurrence,"
providing further evidence for Slobin's "thinking for speaking" theory.
English and Japanese narrators differed in their use of pronoun
mention, subject ellipsis, and reference in subject position. Seig
concludes that the variation of the format has an influence on the
perception of the narrators. One example is that seeing all the
pictures at once in the scroll format might influence segmentation
processes, causing narrators of scroll stories to include fewer details
per picture.

Chapter 14: Rhetorical influences: As Latin was, English is?, by
William G. Eggington
In chapter 14, Eggington investigates the influence of English on
international discourse. Through analogy with Latin and its influence
on the development of English and the influence of Classical Chinese
on the written rhetorical styles used by Korean and Japanese
academic authors, Eggington claims that it is reasonable to assume
that today's most used language for academic discourse has a similar
influence on rhetorical patterns of contemporary languages.
Furthermore, Eggington uses Swales' (1990) distinction between
speech community and discourse community, claiming that being a
competent member of the latter implies that one necessarily has to
learn rhetorical aspects of discourse structure. This again is an
argument for the influence of English on international discourse. As
further evidence, Eggington cites studies, language policies, and
anecdotes. Some examples are: 1.) in some universities and in many
disciplines in countries, such as Sweden and Germany, most
academic essays are written in English, 2) many countries have
introduced strong policies concerning English as a Second Language,
3) studies indicate that some linguistic features were changed by the
influence of English, and 4) a Chinese physics professor reports that
Chinese students seem to use Chinese patterns that are influenced by
English even when they sound 'awkward'. Eggington concludes that
further research in more languages is needed in order to study the
influence of English on international discourse and to determine
whether English will indeed be equal to Latin with regard to its impact.

Chapter 15: Contrastive discourse analysis: Argumentative text in
English and Spanish, by Joanne Neff, Emma Dafouz, Mercedes Díez,
Rosa Prieto, Craig Chaudron
Neff and colleagues report results from a study of developmental and
cross-linguistic aspects in written argumentative texts produced by
Spanish and English L1 journalists, first- and fourth-year Spanish
university students writing in both Spanish and English, and US
students of the same age writing in English by combining factors
studied in contrastive rhetoric and methods employed in
developmental studies. The variables consist of a) structural aspects,
such as 1) words per T-unit, 2) words per clause, 3) finite and non-
finite clauses per T-unit, and of b) information-based aspects, such as
1) types of subordinate finite and non-finite clauses to include
background information, 2) the types of coordinate connectors per T-
unit, and 3) the types of verbs controlling the complement clauses.
Results of analyses of the argumentative texts produced by
professional writers in English and Spanish as their L1 revealed that
Spanish texts had higher means of words per T-unit, words per
clause, relative clauses per T-unit, participial clauses per T-unit, finite
subordinate clauses per T-unit, and finite clauses per T-unit while
English writes used more gerundival clauses per T-unit. Results of
Spanish texts of first-year and fourth-year students and professional
writers show that professional writers used more words and more
participials per T-unit than either group of students. Moreover, data
indicated that there was a development in Spanish writers from first-
year students to professional writers in the use subordinate clauses.
Similar differences were found in the English group between
professional writers and students, with the professionals using longer
T-units, a higher number of participial clauses and of other types of
subordinate clauses. When comparing the texts produced by English
as L1 as opposed to L2, results showed that the group of English
professional writers produced significantly longer T-units than the
other groups. Development in length of T-unit and in syntactic
complexity was observed in English as Foreign Language writers.

Chapter 16: Academic biliteracy and the mother tongue: A case study
of academic essays in Venezuelan Spanish and English, by Elizabeth
Arcay Hands and Ligia Cossé
In chapter 16, Arcay Hands and Cossé examine three academic texts,
two of which were written in Venezuelan Spanish, one by a
monolingual author, one by a bilingual Spanish and English writer and
one written in English by a monolingual English writer. The main
question addressed is whether academic biliteracy influences L1
academic writing, as has been indicated by results in a previous study
by Arcay. The study employs a multidimensional approach, in that it
addresses linguistic, cognitive, cultural and social dimensions, and a
multidisciplinary approach in that it takes into consideration disciplines
such as linguistics, sociology, and psychology. Only findings in the
linguistic and cultural dimension are reported in the chapter. Results
reveal differences and similarities between the texts produced by the
monolingual and bilingual scholars. Aracy Hands and Cossé found
that the text produced by the bilingual author showed a more
homogeneous distribution of different types of sentences used and a
higher use of coordination in sentence structure than the text
produced by the monolingual Spanish scholar. Interestingly, the
bilingual author and the monolingual English author showed a similar
use of sentences with subordinated subordination, whereas the
monolingual Spanish author used a much higher proportion of this
sentence type. With regard to rhetorical organizations, the texts were
generally similar in types and frequencies of basic rhetorical units of
an argument, except for "concession" units, which were used less by
the monolingual Spanish author, but to the same extent by the two
other authors. Differences were also found in the total number of
units, with the bilingual and the English author using the same number
of units despite differences in the number of sentences per text. In
conclusion, Arcay Hands and Cossé show that an analysis using this
approach can illuminate the important question of L2 to L1
transference processes which have so far not been studied
extensively.

Chapter 17: Texts as image schemas: A cross-linguistic study, by
Tânia Gastão Saliés
In chapter 17, Saliés reports results of a study carried out to
investigate the image schema in institutional expository texts, 20 of
which were written in Brazilian Portuguese and 20 in English. Saliés
defines image schema in discourse as a fixed gestalt consisting of a
variety of elements. More specifically, Saliés uses the notion of
COMMUNICATIVE TEXT, elaborating on Lakoff's MOTION schema
consisting of the elements SOURCE-PATH-GOAL-DESTINATION,
each of which again consists of sub-elements. When language users
use these elements and sub-elements simultaneously, they produce
COMMUNICATIVE TEXT. The data was coded with regard to syntax,
lexicon, and word-order effects according to cognitive and pragmatic
constraints, and applying Cognitive Grammar (Langacker 1991).
Analyses revealed significant differences in the organization of
sentences and attention units between Brazilian Portuguese and
English. Brazilian Portuguese writers used more words, more attention
units per sentence, and a higher number of juxtaposed prepositional
phrases than English writers. Analyses of the lexicon showed that
English texts consisted of a higher lexical variety and density than
Brazilian Portuguese texts. Qualitative analyses showed, for example,
that English relied more on content types and less on lexical
repetitions and grammar to cue meaning. Finally, the authors present
image schemas for both languages showing the differences and how
text production is linked to the grammar of the language and to the
efficiency of cognitive processing of certain features.

Chapter 18: Genre and modality in developing discourse abilities, by
Ruth A. Berman
In chapter 18, Berman investigates 256 Hebrew-language texts
produced by 16 subjects of four different levels of schooling (grades
four, seven, eleven and university graduate level), who each
produced four different types of texts (one narrative and one
expository, each produced in spoken and written form). The main
aspects of text production studied are the structure and content of
noun and verb phrases in the two different genres and the register
used in spoken compared to written discourse across the different
ages. Berman found the following genre differences in the use of noun
phrases:
1) a higher use of null subjects in narrative texts and a higher use of
lexical subjects in expository texts,
2) different discourse functions and syntactic contexts of null subjects
in the two genres, with more impersonal constructions occurring in
expository texts, and
3) more personal pronouns in narrative texts as opposed to
impersonal pronouns occurring more frequently in expository texts.

Genre differences in the use of verb phrases include:
1) a higher number of "nominal" copular constructions, "without any
overt verb on present tense" (p.342), in expository than in narrative
texts,
2) a higher number of lexical verbs in narrative texts, and
3) a higher number of complex verb phrases and of nonfinite
subordination subjects in expository texts.

However, up to seventh grade subjects used mostly finite verbs in
simple and subordinate clauses. Developmental analyses revealed
that with age, subjects used more heavy noun phrases and more
complex verb phrases. These complex verb phrases also differed in
structure and content in the different age groups. Moreover, with age
subjects tended to use null subjects that fulfilled discourse purposes
rather than merely using null subjects when they were grammatically
necessary. Nonfinite subordination mainly occurred in high school
students and adults. Modality differences included a higher number of
noun phrases and heavier noun phrases, and more subject omission
with person-inflected verbs in written than in spoken language.
Analyses of the use of register in spoken as compared to written
language showed clear developmental trends. The youngest subjects
produced texts that were mostly "anchored in speech", whereas
seventh-graders showed some signs of distinguishing register of
usage but displayed mixing of register. Ninth-graders seemed to be
aware that different registers were required but were still not able to
show consistent use within the texts and across the genres. Finally,
adults showed consistent use of clear register distinctions. In her
concluding remarks, Berman discusses implications for methodology,
questions of developmental trends, form-function interrelationships
and language typology.

EVALUATION

Moder and Martinovic-Zic's book is a refreshing and crucial
contribution to the study of discourse. First, the different studies
reported in this book provide a variety of topics within the bigger
umbrella of discourse across cultures, bringing together the work of a
number of influential scholars. The findings touch upon important
questions that have not been dealt with so far and open up the
readers' eyes to vital issues. These questions are crucial, not only
within the fields of studies explored in this book, but also for fields
such as education or language policy, just to name two examples. By
investigating the influence of knowledge of a foreign language on the
knowledge and performance in our first language we get closer to
answering questions about cognition, as well as about the importance
of studying foreign languages. Findings concerning different
pragmatic skills and how they are influenced by linguistic and
pragmatic aspects in one's first language can be employed by
classroom practitioners.

A further refreshing aspect is the variety of different contexts in which
these studies are set. Inevitably, the reader is presented with diverse
cultural and educational settings, finding out more about not only what
role the factors of the language play with regard to linguistic features,
but also considering the role of interaction with the cultural, political,
sociological and historical background in the various settings. This in
itself is a course in cultural sensitivity. Moreover, the studies make use
of a plethora of methodologies, thereby providing examples for how to
study the phenomena described in this book with inter- and
multidisciplinary approaches. The chapters are organized in a way
that the reader benefits from previous chapters when reading about
similar methodology or findings that can be compared and built upon.
Therefore, I believe that apart from being an excellent addition to the
specialists' library in the various fields involved, this book would also
be a great tool for courses dealing with discourse. While each chapter
provides an introduction to the methodology applied in different areas
of discourse studies, the topics are related enough that the students
will be able to find out about the interconnectedness of the topics,
while at the same time gaining a broader view of discourse across
languages and cultures. In conclusion, the present book is a rich
scholarly and educational source which is also very enjoyable to read.

REFERENCES

Chafe, W. (1994). Discourse, Consciousness and Time. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press.

Schegloff, E., Sacks, H. (1973). Opening up closing. Semiotica 8: 289-
327.

Goffman, E. (1974). Frame Analysis. New York, NY: Harper and Row.

Goffman, E. (1981). Forms of Talk. Philadelphia: University of
Pennsylvania Press.

Swales, J. (1990). Genre analysis: English in academic and research
settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Langacker, R. (1991). Concept, image, and symbol: The cognitive
basis of grammar. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter.







 
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:


Manuela Wagner is Assistant Professor of Foreign Language
Education and Director of the Critical Languages Program at the
University of Connecticut. Her research focus is on pragmatic
development in first and world language acquisition.