LINGUIST List 21.4272

Wed Oct 27 2010

Diss: Pragmatics: Osimo: 'Mitigating Strategies in the Pragmatic ...'

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        1.     Helen Osimo , Mitigating Strategies in the Pragmatic Interlanguage of Pre-service Teachers of English: Focus on formulaic chunks

Message 1: Mitigating Strategies in the Pragmatic Interlanguage of Pre-service Teachers of English: Focus on formulaic chunks
Date: 27-Oct-2010
From: Helen Osimo <helen.osimonetvision.net.il>
Subject: Mitigating Strategies in the Pragmatic Interlanguage of Pre-service Teachers of English: Focus on formulaic chunks
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Institution: University of Haifa Program: Department of English Language and Literature Dissertation Status: Completed Degree Date: 2010

Author: Helen Osimo

Dissertation Title: Mitigating Strategies in the Pragmatic Interlanguage of Pre-service Teachers of English: Focus on formulaic chunks

Linguistic Field(s): Pragmatics
Subject Language(s): English (eng)
Dissertation Director:
Dennis Kurzon
Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation addresses two areas of linguistics: mitigation as apragmatic strategy, and formulaic language as a linguistic device. Itexamines to what extent mitigation is part of the pragmatic interlanguageof a population of English teachers in training, in a foreign languagesetting, with regard to recognition and production of formulaic mitigatingdevices.

In most of the literature, mitigation is treated as part of politenessphenomenon. The view taken in this work is that mitigation is a distinctand cohesive strategy adopted to reduce severity of perlocutionary effects,particularly in interactions which involve oppositional speech acts. I drawon the research of Aijmer (1996), Bardovi-Harlig and Hartford (1990),Blum-Kulka et al. (1989), Brown and Levinson (1987), Caffi (2007), Fraser(1980), Locher and Watts (2005) and Tannen (1993) to establish a cohesivemodel of mitigation. This includes a frame of conditions, patterns of headact modification and mitigating strategies. The model then serves as aconstruct on which to map a target set of formulaic mitigators.

In the growing body of research on formulaic language, pragmatic functionsof formulae have been under-researched, specifically with regard toformulae for mitigation. Proceeding from the research of Moon (1998),Nattinger and DeCarrico (1992), Schmitt (2004), Wray (2002) among others,I set out criteria for defining a pragmatic category of 'formulaicmitigating chunks' (FMCs), exemplified by a target set of items andcategorized according to their mitigating functions (minimization,forewarning, understatement, etc.).

The empirical study is comprised of two stages. Stage I concerns thevalidity of a set of pragmalinguistic items as salient mitigators with atriangulation procedure: confirmation of the status of formulaicity fromthe literature, corpora searches for frequency, and native speakerpreferences.

Stage II, part 1 examines the effects of one year of natural exposure onthe recognition of FMCs of 82 first-, second- and third- year students.Tests were administered at the beginning and end of one academic year as across-sectional, longitudinal investigation. A significant difference wasfound between the amount of time spent in the program and recognition ofthe target set. In stage II, part 2 of the study, oppositional interactions- complaints and criticisms - produced by learners are analyzed formitigating devices. Data of naturally-occurring interactions with facultyin e-mail exchanges, recorded interviews, feedback questionnaires andverbal comments were collected from six subjects. This qualitative analysissuggests that pragmatic failure is mainly due to pragmalinguistic and notsociolinguistic deficiencies, seen in the many attempts at indirectnesswhich, while not target-like, demonstrate awareness of target-language norms.

Thus, in an EFL setting, even where studies and communication are conductedin the target language, natural exposure over three years is insufficientfor incidental learning of mitigating devices to take place to preventoccurrences of pragmatically deviant moves. This dissertation joins thebody of research on Interlanguage Pragmatics and calls for explicitmetapragmatic intervention and conscious modeling of pragmalinguisticdevices in second language pedagogy. Formulaic mitigating chunks shouldtake their place alongside other well-documented, canonical mitigatingdevices in the construction of a pragmatic syllabus.



Page Updated: 27-Oct-2010