Introducing entities into discourse: L2 pragmatic competence and miscommunication

Ryan, Jonathon (2012) Introducing entities into discourse: L2 pragmatic competence and miscommunication. In: 2nd Auckland Postgraduate Conference on Linguistics and Applied Linguistics, 30 June, 2012, Auckland, New Zealand. (Unpublished)

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Abstract or Summary

In an act of reference, a speaker clarifies for an addressee the identity of a hearer-known individual; a distinction is often drawn between the first reference to the individual (the introduction) and all subsequent references (referent tracking). While aspects of referent tracking are widely researched and considered highly problematic for second language (L2) users, applied linguists have paid little attention to referent introductions, and have typically concluded that they are “not too problematic and almost native speaker-like from the beginning” (Chini, 2005, p. 93). However, such studies have typically focused on the NP as the primary unit of analysis, and have thereby tended to overlook the complex episodic and interactional aspects of referent introductions, such as those identified by Smith et al. (2005). In this talk, I present findings from an analysis of learner language and miscommunication in oral narrative tasks, suggesting that, when the overall act of reference is taken as the primary unit of analysis, the introduction of hearer-known referents poses a substantially greater communicative challenge than has been previously reported, even for advanced second language users. Most problematic are introductions of entities with very low accessibility (Ariel, 1990), for which evidence emerges both of frequent miscommunication and the frequent use of avoidance strategies. In addition, the findings suggest a tendency for L2 speakers to be substantially more over-explicit than L1 speakers when introducing highly accessible entities but under-explicit when introducing less-accessible referents. Implications for second language teaching are discussed.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Keywords that describe the item:Reference, miscommunication, Accessibility Theory
Subjects:P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions:Schools > Centre for Languages
ID Code:2143
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Deposited On:07 Jan 2013 22:20
Last Modified:09 Jan 2017 02:57

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