Variation in unplanned discourse

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Abstract

The study examines the variable realisation of the third person singular present tense by second language learners from one language background at elementary and intermediate levels of proficency in unplanned discurse. The study is unlike previous studies not so much because it controls for differences in discourse mode but because it examines the effects of different linguistic contexts embedded in comparable discourse positions. The paper argues that although the performance of the subjects is elicited from unplanned discourse, different discourse segments might vary in terms of their degree of plannedness. The results of the study demonstrate that very little morphological variability occurs in the production of elementary learners irrespective of either linguistic context or discourse position. The little morphological variation which is observed is lexical with some words attracting target language like variants earlier than others. The performance of the intermediate group lends support to the hypothesis that the distribution of grammatical variants is sensitive to linguistic context and that contrary to one's expectations second language learners are more likely to inflect verbs to mark the third person if the grammatical subject is realised as opposed to when it is a zero subject.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalIRAL - International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching
Volume34
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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