ERIC Number: ED346745
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1987
Non-Nativeness in Second Language Texts: The Syntax Factor.
The so-called deviant character of a set of non-native texts is examined by looking closely at how sentence syntax realizes and affects textual functions. Two broad groups of syntactic phenomena are considered: subordination and "marked structures," such as passives and clefts. Emphasis in this paper is on the following four ways in which syntax can be seen as contributing to explicit coherence: linking, or the establishment of explicit links between propositions; foregrounding/backgrounding (within sentence or within discourse); topic selection/continuity; and focus marking. The data for this exploratory contrastive study consist of three sets of texts, including native French texts, native English texts, and non-native French texts. The research task required the subjects to take sides in a debate current at the time of the data collection, backing their argument with elements drawn from simple statistical data provided. Results suggest the following tentative conclusions: (1) lower syntactic complexity may be related to lower linking density, to less topic selection, and to looser topic continuity; (2) the different ways in which the groups used syntax to foreground and background elements within the sentence and within the text as a whole led them to produce quite different types of texts; and (3) there appeared to be little direct transfer of text-building devices from first language to second language. It is suggested that the evidence of considerable differences between text-building devices used by native writers of French and English calls for detailed contrastive research. Contains 8 references. (LB)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: In: Written Language: British Studies in Applied Linguistics 2. Papers from the Annual Meeting of the British Association for Applied Linguistics (Reading, England, September 1986); see FL 020 460.