Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

The clause-initial position in L2 Swedish declaratives: Word order variation and discourse pragmatics

  • Ute Bohnacker (a1)

Abstract

In a recent study of the clause-initial position in verb-second declaratives (the prefield), Bohnacker & Rosén (2008) found significant differences between native Swedish and German concerning the frequencies with which constituents occurred in the prefield, as well as qualitative differences concerning the mapping of information structure and linear word order: Swedish exhibited a stronger tendency than German to place new information, the so-called rheme, later in the clause. Swedish-speaking learners of German transferred these patterns from their L1 to German. Their sentences were syntactically well-formed but had Swedish-style prefield frequencies and a strong pattern of Rheme Later, which native Germans perceive as unidiomatic, as an acceptability judgment and a rewrite-L2texts task showed. The present study extends Bohnacker & Rosén's work in three ways. Learners of the reverse language combination (L1 German, L2 Swedish) are investigated to see whether similar phenomena also manifest themselves there. Secondly, written and oral data from highly advanced learners are examined to see whether the learners’ persistent problems can be overcome by extensive immersion (3, 6 and 9 years of L2 exposure). Thirdly, besides investigating theme–rheme (old vs. new information), some consideration is given to another information-structural level, background vs. focus. The learners are found to overuse the prefield at first, with non-Swedish, German-style frequency patterns (e.g. low proportions of clause-initial expletives and high proportions of clause-initial rhematic elements). This is interpreted as evidence for L1 transfer of information-structural or discourse-pragmatic preferences. After 6 and 9 years, a substantial increase in clause-initial expletive subjects, clefts and lightweight given elements is indicative of development towards the target. The findings are related to current generative theorizing on the syntax-pragmatics interface, where it is often maintained that the integration of multiple types of information is one of the hardest areas for L2 learners to master.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Ammann, Hermann. 1928. Die menschliche Rede. Sprachphilosophische Untersuchungen 2. Teil: Der Satz. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.
Arnold, Jennifer E., Losongco, Anthony, Wasow, Thomas & Ginstrom, Ryan. 2000. Heaviness vs. newness: The effects of structural complexity and discourse structure on constituent ordering. Language 76, 2855.
Bader, Markus & Häussler, Jana. 2010. Word order in German: A corpus study. Lingua 120, 717762.
Behaghel, Otto. 1909/1910. Beziehungen zwischen Umfang und Reihenfolge von Satzgliedern. Indogermanische Forschungen 25, 110142.
Belletti, Adriana (ed.). 2004. Structures and Beyond: The Cartography of Syntactic Structures, vol. 3. New York: Oxford University Press.
Belletti, Adriana, Bennati, Elisa & Sorace, Antonella. 2007. Theoretical and developmental issues in the syntax of subjects: Evidence from near-native Italian. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 25, 657689.
Beneš, Eduard. 1971. Die Besetzung der ersten Position im deutschen Aussagesatz. Fragen der strukturellen Syntax und der kontrastiven Grammatik, 160182. Düsseldorf: Schwann.
Benincà, Paola & Poletto, Cecilia. 2004. Topic, focus, and V2: Defining the CP sublayers. In Rizzi, Luigi (ed.), The Structure of CP and IP: The Cartography of Syntactic Structures, vol. 2, 5275. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bohnacker, Ute. 2005. Nonnative acquisition of Verb Second: On the empirical underpinnings of universal L2 claims. In den Dikken, Marcel & Tortora, Christina (eds.), The Function of Function Words and Functional Categories, 4177. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Bohnacker, Ute. 2006. When Swedes begin to learn German: From V2 to V2. Second Language Research 22 (4), 144.
Bohnacker, Ute. 2007. On the ‘vulnerability’ of syntactic domains in Swedish and German. Language Acquisition 14 (1), 143.
Bohnacker, Ute & Rosén, Christina. 2007. How to start a declarative V2 clause: Transfer of syntax or information structure in L2 German. Nordlyd 34 (3), 2956.
Bohnacker, Ute & Rosén, Christina. 2008. The clause-initial position in L2 German declaratives: Transfer of information structure. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 30 (4), 511538.
Bouma, Gerlof. 2008. Starting a Sentence in Dutch: A Corpus Study of Subject- and Object-fronting. Groningen: University of Groningen.
Brody, Michael. 1990. Some remarks on the focus field in Hungarian. UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 2, 201225.
Bühler, Karl. 1934. Sprachtheorie. Die Darstellungsfunktion der Sprache. Jena: Gustav Fischer.
Camacho, José. 1999. From SOV to SVO. Second Language Research 15, 115132.
Carroll, Mary & Lambert, Monique. 2003. Information structure in narratives and the role of grammaticised knowledge. In Dimroth, Christine & Starren, Marianne (eds.), Information Structure and the Dynamics of Language Acquisition, 268287. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Carroll, Mary & von Stutterheim, Christiane. 1993. The representation of spatial configurations in English and German and the grammatical structure of locative and anaphoric expressions. Linguistics 31, 10111041.
Carroll, Mary & von Stutterheim, Christiane. 2003. Typology and information organisation: Perspective taking and language-specific effects in the construal of events. In Ramat, Anna Giacolone (ed.), Typology and Second Language Acquisition, 365402. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
Chafe, Wallace L. 1976. Givenness, contrastiveness, definiteness, subjects, topics, and point of view. In Li, Charles N. (ed.), Subject and Topic, 2555. New York: Academic Press.
Chomsky, Noam. 1965. Aspects of the Theory of Syntax. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Chomsky, Noam. 1993. A Minimalist program for linguistic theory. In Hale, Ken & Keyser, Samuel Jay (eds.), The View from Building 20: Essays in Linguistics in Honor of Sylvain Bromberger, 152. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Daneš, Frantiček. 1970. Zur linguistischen Analyse der Textstruktur. Folia Linguistica 4, 7279.
Drach, Erich. 1937. Grundgedanken der deutschen Satzlehre. Frankfurt: Diesterweg.
Dyhr, M. 1978. Die Satzspaltung im Dänischen und Deutschen. Eine kontrastive Analyse. Tübingen: Narr.
Ekberg, Lena. 1997. Diskursiva och syntaktiska mönster i återberättelser hos invandrarbarn i Rosengård. In Håkansson, Gisela, Lötmarker, Lena, Santesson, Lillemor, Svensson, Jan & Viberg, Åke (eds.), Svenskans beskrivning 22. Förhandlingar vid Tjugoandra sammankomsten för svenskans beskrivning Lund den 18–19 oktober 1996, 97110. Lund: Lund University Press.
Ekerot, Lars-Johan. 1979. Syntax och informationsstruktur. In Hyltenstam, Kenneth (ed.), Svenska i invandrarperspektiv, 79108. Lund: Liber Läromedel.
Katalin, É. Kiss. 1998. Identificational focus versus information focus. Language 74 (2), 245273.
Erteschik-Shir, Nomi. 2007. Information Structure: The Syntax–Discourse Interface. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Fanselow, Gisbert. 2007. The restricted access of information structure to syntax: A minority report. In Féry et al., 205–220.
Féry, Caroline. 2007. Information structural notions and the fallacy of invariant correlates. In Féry et al. (eds.), 161–184.
Féry, Caroline, Fanselow, Gisbert & Krifka, Manfred (eds.) 2007. Interdisciplinary Studies on Information Structure 6, 161184.
Grewendorf, Günther. 1988. Aspekte der deutschen Syntax. Tübingen: Narr.
Gundel, Jeanette K. 2002. Information structure and the use of cleft sentences in English and Norwegian. In Hasselgård, Hilde, Johansson, Stig, Behrens, Bergljot & Fabricius-Hansen, Cathrine (eds.), Information Structure in a Cross-linguistic Perspective, 113128. Amsterdam & New York: Rodopi.
Håkansson, Gisela. 1997. Barnets väg till svensk syntax. In Söderbergh, Ragnhild (ed.), Från joller till läsning och skrivning, 4760. Malmö: Gleerups.
Halliday, M. A. K. 1967. Notes on transitivity and theme in English. Part 1 and 2. Journal of Linguistics 3, 3781 & 199–244.
Halliday, M. A. K. & Hasan, Ruqaiya. 1976. Cohesion in English. London: Longman.
Hawkins, John A. 1994. A Performance Theory of Order and Constituency. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hedberg, Nancy. 2000. The referential status of clefts. Language 76 (4), 891920.
Hertel, Tammy Jandrey. 2003. Lexical and discourse factors in the second language acquisition of Spanish word order. Second Language Research 19, 273304.
Hoberg, Ursula. 1981. Die Wortstellung in der geschriebenen deutschen Gegenwartssprache. München: Hueber.
Hockett, Charles. 1958. A Course in Modern Linguistics. New York: MacMillan.
Huber, Stefan. 2002. Es-Clefts und det-Clefts. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell.
Hulk, Aafke & Müller, Natascha. 2000. Bilingual first language acquisition at the interface between syntax and pragmatics. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 3, 227244.
Jackendoff, Ray. 2002. Foundations of Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Jacobs, Joachim. 1984. Funktionale Satzperspektive und Illokutionssemantik. Linguistische Berichte 91, 2558.
Johansson, Mats. 2001. Clefts in contrast: A contrastive study of it clefts and wh clefts in English and Swedish texts and translations. Linguistics 39, 541562.
Johansson, Stig, 2007. Seeing through Multilingual Corpora: On the Use of Corpora in Contrastive Studies. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Jörgensen, Nils. 1976. Meningsbyggnaden i talad svenska. Lund: Studentlitteratur.
Kiese, Jörn. 1993. Fokussierende Sätze im Deutschen und Englischen. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.
Krashen, Stephen. 2003. Explorations in Language Acquisition and Use. Porthsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Krifka, Manfred. 2007. Basic notions of information structure. In Féry et al. (eds.), 13–55.
Kroll, Barbara (ed.). 2003. Exploring the Dynamics of Second Language Writing. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Kuno, Susumu. 1987. Functional Syntax: Anaphora, Discourse, and Empathy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Lambrecht, Knud. 1994. Information Structure and Sentence Form: Topic, Focus and the Mental Representations of Discourse Referents. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Liceras, Juana. 1988. Syntax and stylistics: More on the pro-drop parameter. In Pankhurst, James, Sharwood-Smith, Michael & Van Buren, Paul (eds.), Learnability and Second Languages: A Book of Readings, 7193. Dordrecht: Foris.
Lozano, Cristóbal. 2006. Focus and split-transitivity: The acquisition of word order alternations in non-native Spanish. Second Language Research 22, 145187.
Mauranen, Anna. 1996. Discourse competence: Evidence from thematic development in native and non-native texts. In Ventola, Eija & Mauranen, Anna (eds.), Academic Writing, 195230. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Neeleman, Ad & van de Koot, Hans. 2008. Dutch scrambling and the nature of discourse templates. Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics 11 (2), 137189.
Pérez-Leroux, Ana Teresa & Glass, William. 1999. Null anaphora in Spanish second language acquisition: Probabilistic versus generative approaches. Second Language Research 15, 220249.
Platzack, Christer. 2001. The vulnerable C-domain. Brain and Language 77, 364377.
Polinsky, Maria & Kluender, Robert. 2007. Linguistic typology and theory construction: Common challenges ahead. Linguistic Typology 11, 273283.
Prince, Ellen. 1981. Toward a taxonomy of given–new information. In Cole, Peter (ed.), Radical Pragmatics, 249264. New York: Academic Press.
Prince, Ellen. 1998. On the limits of syntax, with reference to left dislocation and topicalization. In Culicover, Peter [W.] & McNally, Louise (eds.), The Limits of Syntax (Syntax and Semantics 39), 281302. New York: Academic Press.
Rahkonen, Matti. 2000. Topikalisering av icke-subjekt i svenska påståendesatser. Språk och stil 10, 3785.
Rahkonen, Matti. 2006. Some aspects of topicalization in active Swedish declaratives: A quantitative corpus study. Linguistics 44 (1), 2355.
Reinhart, Tanya. 1982. Pragmatics and linguistics: A analysis of sentence topic. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Linguistics Club, 1–38.
Reis, Marga. 1980. On justifying topological frames: ‘Positional field’ and the order of nonverbal constituents in German. Documentation et Recherche en Linguistique Allemande Contemporaine 22/23, 5985.
Rizzi, Luigi. 1997. The fine structure of the left periphery. In Haegeman, Liliane (ed.), Elements of Grammar: Handbook of Generative Syntax, 281337. Dordrecht: Kluwer.
Robach, Inger-Britt. 2003. Satsklyvning i franska och svenska. In Ringqvist, Eva Larsson (ed.), Ordföljd och informationsstruktur i franska och svenska, 4572. Växjö: Växjö University Press.
Rooth, Mats. 1992. A theory of focus interpretation. Natural Language Semantics 1, 75116.
Rosén, Christina. 2006. Warum klingt das nicht deutsch? Probleme der Informationsstrukturierung in deutschen Texten schwedischer Schüler und Studenten. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell.
Rothman, Jason. 2009. Pragmatic deficits with syntactic consequences? L2 pronominal subjects and the syntax–pragmatics interface. Journal of Pragmatics 41, 951973.
Siewierska, Anna. 1993. On the interplay of factors in the determination of word order. In Jacobs, Joachim, von Stechow, Arnim, Sternefeld, Wolfgang & Vennemann, Theo (eds.), Syntax: An International Handbook of Contemporary Research, 826846. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
Silverstein, Michael, 1976. Hierarchy of features and ergativity. In Dixon, Robert M. W. (ed.), Grammatical Categories in Australian Languages, 112171. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.
Sorace, Antonella. 2005. Syntactic optionality at interfaces. In Cornips, Leonie & Corrigan, Karen (eds.), Syntax and Variation: Reconciling the Biological and the Social, 5580. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Sorace, Antonella & Filiaci, Francesca. 2006. Anaphora resolution in near-native speakers of Italian. Second Language Research 22, 339368.
Sorace, Antonella & Serratrice, Ludovica. 2009. Internal and external interfaces in bilingual language development: Beyond structural overlap. International Journal of Bilingualism 13 (2), 195210.
Stemmer, Brigitte, 1999. An on-line interview with Noam Chomsky: On the nature of pragmatics and related issues. Brain and Language 68 (3), 393401.
Teleman, Ulf, Hellberg, Staffan & Andersson, Erik (eds.). 1999. Svenska Akademiens grammatik, vol. 4: Satser och meningar. Stockholm: NordstedtsOrdbok.
Tsimpli, Ianthi & Sorace, Antonella. 2006. Differentiating interfaces: L2 performance in syntax–semantics and syntax–discourse phenomena. In Bamman, David, Magnitskaia, Tatiana & Zaller, Colleen (eds.), 30th Boston University Conference on Language Development, vol. 2, 653664. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
Tomlin, Russell S., Forrest, Linda, Pu, Ming Ming & Kim, Myung Hee. 1997. Discourse semantics. In van Dijk, Teun A. (ed.), Discourse as Structure and Process, 63111. London: Sage.
Valenzuela, Elena. 2006. L2 end state grammars and incomplete acquisition of Spanish CLLD constructions. In Slabakova, Roumyana, Montrul, Silvina & Prévost, Philippe (eds.), Inquiries in Linguistics Development, 283304. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
von Stutterheim, Christiane. 2003. Linguistic structure and information organisation: The case of very advanced learners. In Foster-Cohen, Susan & Doehler, Simone Pekarek (eds.), EUROSLA Yearbook 3, 183206. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
von Stutterheim, Christiane & Klein, Wolfgang. 1989. Text structure and referential movement. In Dietrich, Rainer & Graumann, Carl F. (eds.), Language Processing in Social Context, 3976. Amsterdam: North Holland.
Weber, Andrea & Müller, Karin. 2004. Word order variation in German main clauses: A corpus analysis. 20th International Conference on Computational Linguistics, 71–77, Geneva.
White, Lydia. 2009. Grammatical theory: Interfaces and L2 knowledge. In Ritchie, William C. & Bhatia, Taj K. (eds.), The New Handbook of Second Language Acquisition, 4968. Leeds: Emerald.
Zifonun, Gisela, Hoffmann, Ludger & Strecker, Bruno et al. (eds.). 1997. Grammatik der deutschen Sprache, vol. 2. Berlin & New York: Walter de Gruyter.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Nordic Journal of Linguistics
  • ISSN: 0332-5865
  • EISSN: 1502-4717
  • URL: /core/journals/nordic-journal-of-linguistics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed