Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-55597f9d44-zdfhw Total loading time: 0.276 Render date: 2022-08-08T07:47:36.133Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

Second language acquisition of pragmatic inferences: Evidence from the French c'est-cleft

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 November 2016

EMILIE DESTRUEL*
Affiliation:
University of Iowa
BRYAN DONALDSON
Affiliation:
University of California, Santa Cruz
*
ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE Emilie Destruel, University of Iowa, 111 Philipps Hall, Iowa City, IA 52242. E-mail: emiliedestrueljohnson@gmail.com

Abstract

This paper examines the extent to which second language (L2) speakers of French acquire the semantic and pragmatic (or interpretive) properties associated with the c'est-cleft, specifically the exhaustive inference. This phenomenon is relevant to theories of language acquisition because it is situated at the interface of syntax and pragmatics. The results from a forced-choice task challenge the empirical adequacy of the interface hypothesis (Sorace, 2011, 2012; Sorace & Filiaci, 2006), which claims that external interfaces between a linguistic module and a cognitive module remain problematic even at the highest levels of L2 acquisition. The results from 40 L2 learners at three proficiency levels reveal development from nontargetlike to nativelike behavior. In particular, the high-proficiency group interprets the c'est-cleft, as well as canonical subject–verb–object sentences and sentences with exclusives (i.e., seul(ement) “only”), in a statistically identical way to the French native speaker control group.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Abrahamsson, N., & Hyltenstam, K. (2009). Age of onset and nativelikeness in a second language: Listener perception versus linguistic scrutiny. Language Learning, 59, 249306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bardovi-Harlig, K. (2003). Understanding the role of grammar in the acquisition of L2 pragmatics. In Martínez, A., Juan, E. Usó, & Guerra, A. Fernández (Eds.), Pragmatic competence and foreign language teaching (pp. 2544). Castelló de la Plana, Spain: Publicacions de la Universitat Jaume I.Google Scholar
Barr, D. J., Levy, R., Scheepers, C., & Tily, H. J. (2013). Random effects structure for confirmatory hypothesis testing: Keep it maximal. Journal of Memory and Language, 68, 255278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bartning, I. (1997). C'est—In native and non-native spoken French. Studier i Modern Språkventenskap, 11, 1347.Google Scholar
Bartning, I., & Hammarberg, B. (2007). The functions of a high-frequency collocation in native and learner discourse: The case of French c'est and Swedish det är. International Review of Applied Linguistics, 45, 143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bates, D. M. (2005). Fitting linear mixed models. R News, 5, 2730.Google Scholar
Belletti, A. (2005). Answering with a cleft: The role of the null subject parameter and the VP periphery. In Brugè, L., Giusti, G., Munaro, N., Schweikert, W., & Turano, G. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 30th Incontro di Grammatica Generativa (pp. 6382). Venice, Italy: Cafoscarina.Google Scholar
Belletti, A., Bennati, E., & Sorace, A. (2007). Theoretical and developmental issues in the syntax of subjects: Evidence from near-native Italian. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory, 25, 657689.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Birch, S. L., & Rayner, K. (1997). Linguistic focus affects eye movements during reading. Memory and Cognition, 25, 653660.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bohnacker, U. (2010). The clause-initial position in L2 Swedish declaratives: Word order variation and discourse pragmatics. Nordic Journal of Linguistics, 33, 105143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bott, L., & Noveck, I. A. (2004). Some utterances are underinformative: The onset and time course of scalar inferences. Journal of Memory and Language, 51, 437457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bourns, S. K. (2014). Contrasting c'est-clefts and it-clefts in discourse. In Bourns, S. K. & Myers, L. L. (Eds.), Perspectives on linguistic structure and context (pp. 199222). Amsterdam: Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Carter-Thomas, S. (2009). The French c'est-cleft: Functional and formal motivations. In Banks, D., Eason, S., & Ormrod, J. (Eds.), La linguistique systémique fontionnelle et la langue française (pp. 127156). Paris: L'Harmattan.Google Scholar
Chierchia, G., Crain, S., Guasti, M. T., Gualmini, A., & Meroni, L. (2001). The acquisition of disjunction: Evidence for a grammatical view of scalar implicatures. In: Do, A. H.-J., Domínguez, L., & Johansen, A. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 25th Boston University Conference on Language Development (pp. 157168). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.Google Scholar
Clech-Darbon, A., Rebuschi, G., & Rialland, A. (1999). Are there cleft sentences in French? In Rebuschi, G. & Tuller, L. (Eds.), The grammar of focus (pp. 83118). Amsterdam: Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
DeCat, C. (2007). French dislocation: Interpretation, syntax and acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Dekydtspotter, L., & Farmer, K. (2016). On the processing of subject clefts in English–French interlanguage: Parsing to learn and the subject relativizer qui . In Guijarro-Fuentes, P., Schmitz, K., & Müller, N. (Eds.), The acquisition of French in multilingual contexts (pp. 6693). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
Destruel, E. (2013). An empirical investigation of the meaning and use of the French c'est-cleft (Doctoral dissertation, University of Texas at Austin).Google Scholar
Destruel, E., & Farmer, T. A. (2015). Processing exhaustive in English it-clefts. Poster presented at the XPrag Conference, Chicago.Google Scholar
Destruel, E., Velleman, D., Onea, E., Bumford, D., Xue, J., & Beaver, D. (2015). A cross-linguistic study of the non at-issueness of exhaustive inferences. In Schwarz, F. (Ed.), Experimental perspectives on presuppositions (pp. 135156). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
Donaldson, B. (2011a). Left dislocation in near-native French. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 33, 399432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Donaldson, B. (2011b). Nativelike right-dislocations in near-native French. Second Language Research, 27, 361390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Donaldson, B. (2012). Syntax and discourse in near-native French: Clefts and focus. Language Learning, 62, 902930.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Drenhaus, H., Zimmermann, M., & Vasishth, S. (2011). Exhaustiveness effects in clefts are not truth-functional. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 24, 320337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ellis, N. (2006). Language acquisition as rational contingency learning. Applied Linguistics, 27, 124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ferdinand, A. (2002). Acquisition of syntactic topic marking in L2 French. In Broekhuis, H. & Fikkert, P. (Eds.), Linguistics in the Netherlands (pp. 4959). Amsterdam: Benjamins.Google Scholar
Féry, C. (2013). Focus as prosodic alignment. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, 31, 683734.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Grodner, D., Klein, N. M., Carbary, K. M., & Tanenhaus, M. K. (2010). “Some,” and possibly all, scalar inferences are not delayed: Evidence for immediate pragmatic enrichment. Cognition, 116, 4255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gross, M. (1968). Grammaire transformationnelle du français: Syntaxe du verbe. Paris: Larousse.Google Scholar
Hamlaoui, F. (2007). French cleft sentences and the syntax-phonology interface. In Radišić, M. (Ed.), Actes du congrès annuel de l'Association canadienne de linguistique 2007 (pp. 15051518). Saskatchewan: Canadian Linguistic Association.Google Scholar
Hartmann, K., & Veenstra, T. (2013). Cleft structures. Amsterdam: Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hedberg, N. (2000). On the referential status of clefts. Language, 76, 891920.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Heizmann, T. (2007). Children's acquisition of exhaustivity in clefts. In Caunt-Nulton, H., Kulatilake, S., & Woo, I.–H. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 31st Boston University Conference on Language Development (pp. 298309). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.Google Scholar
Heizmann, T. (2012). Exhaustivity in questions and clefts; and the quantifier connection: A study in German and English (Doctoral dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst).Google Scholar
Hofmeister, P. (2009). Encoding effects on memory retrieval in language comprehension. Paper presented at the 22nd CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing, University of California, Davis.Google Scholar
Hopp, H. (2009). The syntax-discourse interface in near-native L2 acquisition: Off-line and online performance. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 12, 463483.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Horn, L. (1981). Exhaustiveness and the semantics of clefts. In Burke, V. & Pustejovsky, J. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 11th Annual Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society (pp. 125142). Amherst, MA: Graduate Student Linguistic Association.Google Scholar
Huang, Y., & Snedeker, J. (2009). On-line interpretation of scalar quantifiers: Insight into the semantics–pragmatics interface. Cognitive Psychology, 58, 376415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Johnson, J. S., & Newport, E. L. (1989). Critical period effects in second language learning: The influence of maturational state on the acquisition of English as a second language. Cognitive Psychology, 21, 6099.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Katz, S. L. (1997). The syntactic and pragmatic properties of the c'est-cleft construction (Doctoral dissertation, University of Texas at Austin).Google Scholar
Kiss, K. E. (1998). Identificational focus versus information focus. Language, 74, 245273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Krifka, M. (2008). Basic notions of information structure. Acta Linguistica Hungarica, 55, 243276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lambrecht, K. (1986). Pragmatically motivated syntax: Presentational cleft constructions in spoken French. In Farley, A. M., Farley, P. T., & McCullough, K.–E. (Eds.), Papers from the Parasession on Pragmatics and Grammatical Theory (pp. 115126). Chicago: Chicago Linguistic Society.Google Scholar
Lambrecht, K. (1987). On the status of SVO sentences in French discourse. In Tomlin, R. S. (Ed.), Coherence and grounding in discourse (pp. 217261). Amsterdam: Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lambrecht, K. (1994). Information structure and sentence form. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lambrecht, K. (2001). A framework for the analysis of cleft constructions. Linguistics, 39, 463516.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lardiere, D. (2011). Who is the interface hypothesis about? Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, 1, 4853.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Levinson, S. C. (2000). Presumptive meanings: The theory of generalized conversational implicature. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Lozano, C. (2002). The interpretation of overt and null pronouns in non-native Spanish. Durham Working Papers in Linguistics, 8, 5366.Google Scholar
Marinova-Todd, S. H. (2003). Comprehensive analysis of ultimate attainment in adult second language acquisition (Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University).Google Scholar
Noveck, I. (2001). When children are more logical than adults: Experimental investigations of scalar implicature. Cognition, 78, 165188.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
O'Grady, W., Lee, M., & Kwak, H.-Y. (2009). Emergentism and second language acquisition. In Ritchie, W. & Bhatia, T. (Eds.), Handbook of second language acquisition (pp. 6988). Bingley: Emerald Group.Google Scholar
Onea, E., & Beaver, D. (2011). Hungarian focus is not exhausted. In Cormany, E., Ito, S., & Lutz, D. (Eds.), Proceedings of Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) 19 (pp. 342359). Ljubljana, Slovenia: eLanguage.Google Scholar
Pavlou, N. (2014). Experimental insights: Explicit and implicit exhaustivity. Paper presented at the 15th meeting of the Texas Linguistics Society, Austin, TX.Google Scholar
Prince, E. F. (1978). A comparison of wh-clefts and it-clefts in discourse. Language, 54, 883906.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
R Development Core Team. (2016). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. Vienna: R Foundation for Statistical Computing. Retrieved from https://www.R-project.org/ Google Scholar
Reeve, M. (2010). Clefts (Doctoral dissertation, University College London).Google Scholar
Reeve, M. (2011). The syntactic structure of English clefts. Lingua, 121, 142171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Reichle, R. V. (2008). Syntactic focus structure processing: Behavioral and electrophysiological evidence from L1 and L2 French (Doctoral dissertation, dissertation, University of Texas at Austin).Google Scholar
Reichle, R. V., & Birdsong, D. (2014). Processing focus structure in L1 and L2 French: L2 proficiency effects on ERPs. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 36, 535564.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rooth, M. E. (1992). A theory of focus interpretation. Natural Language Semantics, 1, 75116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rothman, J. (2009). Pragmatic deficits with syntactic consequences? L2 pronominal subjects and the syntax–pragmatics interface. Journal of Pragmatics, 41, 951973.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rowlett, P. (2007). The syntax of French. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schwartz, B. D., & Sprouse, R. A. (1996). L2 cognitive states and the full transfer/full access model. Second Language Research, 12, 4072.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Skopeteas, S., & Fanselow, G. (2010.) Focus types and argument asymmetries: A cross-linguistic study in language production. In Breul, C. & Göbbel, E. (Eds.), Contrastive information structure (pp. 169197). Amsterdam: Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Slabakova, R. (2010). Scalar implicatures in second language acquisition. Lingua, 120, 24442462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Slabakova, R. (2015). The effect of construction frequency and native transfer on second language knowledge of the syntax–discourse interface. Applied Psycholinguistics, 36, 671699.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Slabakova, R., Kempchinsky, P., & Rothman, J. (2012). Clitic-doubled left dislocation and focus fronting in L2 Spanish: A case of successful acquisition at the syntax-discourse interface. Second Language Research, 28, 319343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sleeman, P. (2004). Guided learners of French and the acquisition of emphatic constructions. International Review of Applied Linguistics, 42, 129151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sorace, A. (2003). Near-nativeness. In Long, M. & Doughty, C. (Eds.), Handbook of second language acquisition (pp. 130152). Oxford: Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sorace, A. (2011). Pinning down the concept of “interface” in bilingualism. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, 1, 133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sorace, A. (2012). Pinning down the concept of interface in bilingual development: A reply to peer commentaries. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, 2, 209216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sorace, A., & Filiaci, F. (2006). Anaphora resolution in near-native speakers of Italian. Second Language Research, 22, 339368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tracy-Ventura, N., McManus, K., Norris, J. M., & Ortega, L. (2014). “Repeat as much as you can”: Elicited imitation as a measure of oral proficiency in L2 French. In Leclercq, P., Edmonds, A., & Hilton, H. (Eds.), Measuring L2 proficiency: Perspectives from SLA (pp. 143166). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
Tremblay, A. (2011). Proficiency assessment standards in second language acquisition research. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 33, 339372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Trévise, A. (1986). Is it transferable, topicalization? In Kellerman, E. & Smith, M. Sharwood (Eds.), Crosslinguistic influence in second language acquisition (pp. 186206). New York: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
Tsimpli, I., & Sorace, A. (2006). Differentiating interfaces: L2 performance in syntax semantics and syntax discourse phenomena. In Bamman, D., Magnitskaia, T., & Zeller, C. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 30th annual Boston University Conference on Language Development (Vol. 2, pp. 653664). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.Google Scholar
Valdman, A. (1988). Classroom foreign language learning and language variation: The notion of pedagogical norms. World Englishes, 7, 221236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Valenzuela, E. (2006). L2 end state grammars and incomplete acquisition of Spanish CLLD constructions. In Slabakova, R., Montrul, S., & Prévost, P. (Eds.), Inquiries in linguistic development: In honor of Lydia White (pp. 283304). Amsterdam: Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Watorek, M. (2004). Construction du discours par des apprenants de langues, enfants et adultes. Acquisition et Interaction en Langue Etrangère, 20, 129171.Google Scholar
White, L. (1989). Universal grammar and second language acquisition. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
White, L. (2011a). Second language acquisition at the interfaces. Lingua, 121, 577590.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
White, L. (2011b). The interface hypothesis: How far does it extend? Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, 1, 108110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Xue, J., & Onea, E. (2011). Correlation between presupposition projection and at-issueness: An empirical study. In Kierstead, G. (Ed.), Proceedings of the ESSLLI 2011 Workshop on Projective Meaning (pp. 171184). Ljubljana, Slovenia: eLanguage.Google Scholar
6
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Second language acquisition of pragmatic inferences: Evidence from the French c'est-cleft
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Second language acquisition of pragmatic inferences: Evidence from the French c'est-cleft
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Second language acquisition of pragmatic inferences: Evidence from the French c'est-cleft
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *