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Subjectivity in a Second Language

Wolf, Alan J.E.

Subjectivity in a Second Language

Conveying the Expression of Self

Series: Contemporary Studies in Descriptive Linguistics - Volume 8

Year of Publication: 2006

Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2006. 246 pp.
ISBN 978-3-03910-518-2 pb.  (Softcover)

Weight: 0.360 kg, 0.794 lbs

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Book synopsis

Subjectivity, the speaker’s expression of self in discourse, is a relatively under-researched area in the field of applied linguistics: this book examines the role of subjectivity in the context of second language use. Drawing on insights from discourse analysis and pragmatics, it describes how a group of students studying French at degree level at the University of Cambridge, England, convey expressions of subjectivity in personal narratives and argumentative language.
In this book, the author begins by introducing the reader to key areas in the study of discourse. Using a methodology that has much in common with descriptive linguistics, he provides a wide-ranging account of how forms in language are used to convey the expression of subjectivity. His particular concern is to examine how these markers of subjectivity are used differently by native and non-native speakers of French. The discussion is carefully supplemented throughout with a variety of exemplification and discourse types, including personal narratives in French and English and transcripts of video-taped interactions in role-plays.
In the course of his analysis, the author questions long-held assumptions about the way French is taught in secondary schools and in higher education institutions. The range of issues discussed, as well as the variety of examples used, will make this a valuable book not only for students of applied linguistics but also for any reader wishing to gain a deeper understanding of how the expression of subjectivity can contribute to the learning of a second language.


Contents: The speaker’s ‘I’ in second language and mother-tongue narratives – Subjectivity in the tense aspect system of second language learners’ narratives – Reported speech: a ‘layering of voices’ in oral narratives – The expression of self in argumentative discourse – Learner subjectivity: theory and practice.

About the author(s)/editor(s)

The Author: Alan Wolf, born in Nîmes, France, has been a lecturer in Pragmatics at the University of Durham, UK, since 2003. He has published articles on the role of context in second language learning and on learners’ abilities to recover inferences in ironical and metaphorical utterances. His recently completed Ph.D. (The University of Cambridge, Clare College, England) was in the area of subjectivity and second language use.


Contemporary Studies in Descriptive Linguistics. Vol. 8
Edited by Graeme Davis and Karl A. Bernhardt