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Title: Pragmatic perspectives on the second language acquisition of person reference in Japanese : a longitudinal study
Authors: Lumley, Joseph Robert
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis presents a longitudinal study of the acquisition of person reference in Japanese by second language (L2) learners whose first language is English. Reference to persons is of particular interest in pragmatics as an area where discourse-pragmatic (referential coherence) and social (status marking) aspects of language intersect. Previous studies have discussed L2 reference as well as politeness and status marking in second languages. However, person reference itself has rarely been the object of investigation. The original contribution of this thesis is to include both social and discourse-pragmatic theories in a longitudinal study of this area of learner language. The study uses data from six learners of L2 Japanese after two years’ classroom instruction in the UK, and after a further year’s study in Japan, as well as native Japanese data. A range of communicative tasks is used to elicit person reference while providing variation in social and discourse-pragmatic conditions. Learners’ basic route of discourse-pragmatic development thus revealed is one where initial overexplicitness in person reference reduces over time but does not disappear altogether. As they develop, learners supply null forms more readily but overuse them in certain lower accessibility contexts. Physical presence of the referent is consistently the most important accessibility-determining factor for learners; over time they become more responsive to competition for the role of antecedent. For social factors, the terms used to refer to high-status persons are generally native-like from the pre-study abroad stage onwards. In many other respects, however, learners after study abroad use a greater range of forms and strategies than they do at the earlier stage. However, the results of this are not necessarily target-like. These findings are in many respects consistent with those of previous studies, but are reached using a more detailed conception of social and discourse-pragmatic contexts than previous studies tend to. However, the often-reported overuse of informal variants is not found here, and the post-study abroad overuse of null forms found here is not reported elsewhere. I argue that these findings are consistent with a view of L2 pragmatic development as a process of gaining attentional control over pre-existing pragmatic representations (Bialystok 1994). Furthermore, accessibility theory (Ariel 1990), which is very rarely used in L2 research, is shown to provide a useful framework for analysing learners’ discourse-pragmatic development.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Modern Languages

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