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New trends and methodologies in applied English language research III

Synchronic and diachronic studies on discourse, lexis and grammar processing

by Sofia Bemposta-Rivas (Volume editor) Carla Bouzada-Jabois (Volume editor) Yolanda Fernández-Pena (Volume editor) Tamara Bouso (Volume editor) Yolanda J. Calvo-Benzies (Volume editor) Iván Tamaredo (Volume editor)
Edited Collection 298 Pages
Series: Linguistic Insights, Volume 209

Summary

This volume includes eleven papers pertaining to different areas of linguistics and organised into three sections. Part I contains diachronic studies which cover data from Middle English to Present-Day English and which explore phenomena such as the status of extender tags, the distribution of free adjuncts, post-auxiliary ellipsis, and the use of ‘ephemeral’ concessive adverbial subordinators. Part II comprises studies on grammar and language processing dealing with topics such as the interaction between syntactic and structural complexity and verbal agreement with collective subjects, the influence of distributivity and concreteness on verbal agreement, the interaction of complexity and efficiency in pronoun omission in Indian English and Singapore English, and the methods and approaches used for grammar teaching in modern EFL/ESL textbooks. Finally, Part III revolves around lexis, discourse and pragmatics, with papers that discuss the development of the discoursal representation of social actors in Argentinian newspapers after the military dictatorship, the construction of women’s gender identity through positive and negative emotions in women’s magazines, and spelling-to-sound correspondence on Twitter.

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Introduction (Sofía Bemposta-Rivas, Carla Bouzada-Jabois and Yolanda Fernández-Pena)
  • Part I: Diachronic studies
  • Looking into extender tags in Late Modern English: The case of or something or other (Alba Pérez-González)
  • Referential links in -ing and -ed free adjuncts in Late Modern English (Carla Bouzada-Jabois)
  • Ephemerality in concessive subordinators. Evidence from the history of English (Cristina Blanco-García)
  • ‘We cou’d not fail of learning the Latin language, as well as we do the Modern Languages’: An empirical study of the licensors and genre distribution of Post-Auxiliary Ellipsis in Late Modern English (Evelyn Gandón-Chapela)
  • Part II: Grammar and language processing
  • Verbal agreement with collectives taking of-dependents: Syntactic and structural complexity as determinant factors (Yolanda Fernández-Pena)
  • Interactivity and opportunism in agreement operations: An experimental study on the production of subject-verb agreement in English and Spanish (Paula Márquez-Caamaño)
  • The conventionalization of performance preferences: Pronoun omission in Indian English and Singapore English (Iván Tamaredo)
  • How is grammar presented in modern English textbooks? What can we learn from this? (Tamilla Mammadova)
  • Part III: Lexis, discourse and pragmatics
  • Coming to terms with a traumatic past: Social actors in the Argentine media (Mariana Pascual)
  • Evaluative language, women and advertising: The construction of women’s gender identity (Marta Muñoz-Ramal)
  • Spelling-to-sound adaptations on Twitter: The relationship between spelling and pronunciation in a corpus of tweets (Úrsula Kirsten-Torrado)
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Notes on Editors
  • Series index

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SOFÍA BEMPOSTA-RIVAS, CARLA BOUZADA-JABOIS AND YOLANDA FERNÁNDEZ-PENA

Introduction

This volume comprises a selection of the papers presented at the Fourth ELC International Postgraduate Conference on Language and Cognition (ELC4) hosted by the LVTC Research Group at the University of Vigo, 04-06 February 2015. The ELC International Postgraduate Conference dates back to 2008 when the English Linguistics Circle Research Network organised the ELC1 at the University of Santiago de Compostela, followed by a second edition in 2009 at the University of Vigo (ELC2) and a third one (ELC3) in 2012 at the University of Santiago de Compostela again. Following the directions of the previous conferences, ELC4 was intended as an informal and intellectually stimulating setting where postgraduate students were given the opportunity to present and discuss their research. The ELC4 conference was organised by postgraduate students from the five research groups comprising the ELC network and based at the Universities of Vigo and Santiago de Compostela: Language Variation and Textual Categorisation (LVTC, University of Vigo), Variation, Linguistic Change and Grammatical­ization (VLCG, University of Santiago de Compostela), Spoken English Research Team at the University of Santiago de Compostela (SPERTUS, University of Santiago de Compostela), Cognitive Processes and Behaviour (PCC, University of Santiago de Compostela), and Methods and Materials for the Teaching and Acquisition of Foreign Languages (MMTAFL, University of Vigo). The ELC4 conference would not have been possible but for the invaluable help of senior members of these groups, especially for Dr. Javier Pérez-Guerra’s guidance and support.

We would also like to express our gratitude to the following institutions and organisations. In the first place, we gratefully acknow­ledge the generous financial support of the Autonomous Government of Galicia (grants no. R2014/016, GPC2014/060), the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (grant no. FFI2014-51873-REDT), ← 7 | 8 → the research group LVTC, the ELC network and, finally, the Department of English, French and German Studies at the University of Vigo. Our gratitude must be extended to the other three organisers of the ELC4 from the University of Santiago de Compostela for their willingness and cooperation: Tamara Bouso, Yolanda J. Calvo-Benzies and Iván Tamaredo. We also appreciate the inestimable help of the Scientific Committee and the reviewers of the papers collected here for their insightful recommendations and remarks.

Last but not least, we would like to thank the following plenary speakers for having accepted our invitation: Prof. J. Carlos Acuña-Fariña (University of Santiago de Compostela), Dr. Pedro Álvarez-Mosquera (University of Salamanca) and Prof. Marjolijn Verspoor (University of Groningen). Finally, our warmest appreciation goes to the contributors to this volume.

The eleven papers collected in this volume pertain to different areas of linguistics as varied as diachronic linguistics, syntax, pragmatics or psycholinguistics. The eleven individual case studies have been organised into three different sections. Part I comprises diachronic studies which cover from Middle English to Present-Day English and which explore phenomena such as (i) the status of extender tags such as or something or other (Alba Pérez-González), (ii) the distribution of free adjuncts and absolutes (Carla Bouzada-Jabois), (iii) the use of ‘ephemeral’ concessive adverbial subordinators such as albeit or howbeit vs. (al)though (Cristina Blanco-García) and (iv) Post-Auxiliary Ellipsis (Evelyn Gandón-Chapela). Part II contains studies on grammar and language processing which cover topics such as (i) the interaction between syntactic and structural complexity and verbal agreement with collective subjects (Yolanda Fernández-Pena), (ii) the influence of distributivity and concreteness on verbal agreement (Paula Márquez-Caamaño), (iii) the interaction of complexity and efficiency in relation to pronoun omission (Iván Tamaredo) and (iv) the methods and approaches used for grammar presentation and teaching in modern EFL/ESL textbooks (Tamilla Mammadova). Finally, Part III revolves around lexis, discourse and pragmatics, with papers that discuss issues such as (i) the temporal development of the discoursal representation of actors (Ma­ria­na Pascual); (ii) the construction of women’s gender identity through ← 8 | 9 → positive and negative emotions conveyed in women’s magazines (Marta Muñoz-Ramal) and (iii) spelling-to-sound correspondence on Twitter (Úrsula Kirsten-Torrado).

ALBA PÉREZ-GONZÁLEZ’s work ‘Looking into extender tags in Late Modern English: The case of or something or other’ focuses on the use of the extender tag or something or other in Late Modern English. Extender tags are expressions usually added at the end of phrases, sometimes in clause final position to utterances that are otherwise complete. These constructions have been widely studied in Present-Day English, however there is a need for further study in earlier periods of the language. Pérez-González points out that only Carroll (2007, 2008) analysed extender tags in Middle English and Early Modern English, while Late Modern English extender tags remain unexplored. The main aim of this contribution is to provide a detailed analysis of the status of the extender tag or something or other in Late Modern English with data retrieved from the Eighteenth Century and Nineteenth Century Fiction collections of literature. For this purpose, three different hypotheses will be tested: (i) or other is an extension of the extender tag or something, (ii) or other can be considered as an independent extender tag forming a cluster of extender tags with or something, (iii) or something or other is a fixed expression considered as a variant of or something. The first hypothesis has been rejected since or other seems to be at the same syntactic level than or something in the construction or something or other, which is coordinated by the conjunction or, and so there is no modification as it occurs in other extensions of the extender tag or something. Hypothesis two has also been rejected on the basis of the absence of similar scope of or something and or other, as would be the case with other prototypical extender tags, as and so on and so forth. Or other is then a hedge to the head extender tag or something rather than being an extender tag on its own. Supporting the third hypothesis, the evidence from Pérez-González’s study concludes that or something or other can be considered as a fixed expression and a variant of or something.

In the paper ‘Referential links in -ing and -ed free adjuncts in Late Modern English’, CARLA BOUZADA-JABOIS discusses the referential links holding between free adjuncts (FAs) and their main clauses in Late Modern English, focusing on how such referential links correlate ← 9 | 10 → with the position of FAs in the sentence and how these are semantically interpreted. On the basis of data retrieved from the Penn Parsed Corpus of Late Modern English (1700–1914), the author shows that, although there has been an increase in the use of FA without explicit referents in the main clause, prototypical FAs that hold a relation of coreference with an element in the main clause are the preferred option. As regards the relation between coreference, the position of the FA with respect to the main clause and their semantic interpretation, two main conclusions can be drawn: (i) FAs establishing a relation of coreference with an element in the main clause are most often placed in medial or final position, and, when in final position, they convey least informative meanings according to Kortmann’s (1991) scale of informativeness. (ii) Unrelated FAs, by contrast, usually occur in initial position and they convey more informative meanings.

CRISTINA BLANCO-GARCÍA’s study ‘Ephemerality in concessive subordinators. Evidence from the history of English’ traces the origin, development and obsolescence of the ‘ephemeral’ adverbial subordinators albeit, howbeit, how(so/some)ever, how so, how well and notwithstanding in Late Middle English and Early Modern English. Blanco-García contrasts the use of the prototypical concessive subordinators although and though with that of the six ephemeral adverbial subordinators. The findings suggest that the prototypical concessive subordinators are more frequent than the ephemeral ones. The evolution of the latter group is related to the two peaks in the development of though and although in 1250–1350 and 1640–1710. The rise of the ephemeral concessive subordinators is attested just after the peak of though and a slight increase in use of although. The second peak of the prototypical concessive subordinators corresponds with the previous obsolescence of the ephemeral concessive subordinators. This study also analyses the use of the eight concessive subordinators with the correlative conjunction yet and their combination with the subordinating particles þe and that. The findings reveal that of the six ephemeral concessive subordinators only how well and albeit are attested with yet. In turn, though and although are more frequently attested with yet, mainly when the subordinate clause is in initial position. In the case of the combination with the particle þe and the pleonastic that, these are ← 10 | 11 → sporadically attested with both the six ephemeral concessive subordinators and the prototypical ones.

In ‘We cou’d not fail of learning the Latin language, as well as we do the Modern Languages: An Empirical Study of the Licensors and Genre Distribution of Post-Auxiliary Ellipsis in Late Modern English’, EVELYN GANDÓN-CHAPELA examines licensors (such as have, be, do, must or should) and genre distribution of different types of Post-Auxiliary Ellipsis (of the VP, DP, AP, PP, AdP) in the Late Modern English Period. She distinguishes two main subtypes of PAE: (i) VP Ellipsis (VPE); and, (ii) Pseudogapping (PG). Generally speaking, she found that modal auxiliaries (should, can, would, may, must, etc.) were the most common licensors for PAE in Late Modern English, followed by auxiliaries be and have. Regarding the two subtypes of PAE distinguished, her results indicate that the most frequent licensors of VPE in both writing-related and speech-related genres in this period were, once again, modal auxiliaries, followed by auxiliary be, auxiliary have and the infinitival marker to whereas more examples of auxiliary be can be found in PG than of modal auxiliaries and auxiliary have. In this article, Gandón-Chapela also compares her data to similar studies which examined licensors and PAE in Present-Day English.

YOLANDA FERNÁNDEZ-PENA’s article entitled ‘Verbal agreement with collectives taking of-dependents: Syntactic and structural complexity as determinant factors’ explores the effect of the syntactic and structural complexity of plural of-PPs in the patterns of verbal agreement of a set of twenty-three collective noun-based constructions in contemporary British and American English. Her study, based on an extensive sample of constructions extracted from the BNC and COCA, reveals interesting results that go against the traditional assumption that the syntactic distance between the collective noun and the verb increases the probability of finding plural with the singular collective (Corbett 1979; Levin 2001). More specifically, Fernández-Pena’s study shows that the plural of-PP is a statistically significant determinant of plural verbal number in contexts where the of-dependent is bare, that is, when the of-dependent occurs without premodification and postmodification as in The crowd [of cockneys] were singing along (vs. A group [of Chinese seniors living at the Frances Beavis residence]have transformed). ← 11 | 12 → As the syntactic and structural complexity of the of-PP increases through the addition of modifiers, the rate of plural verbal forms diminishes significantly, a finding that suggests that speakers tend to ease the cognitive processing of these more complex constructions by opting out for singular verbal forms.

In ‘Interactivity and opportunism in agreement operations: An experimental study on the production of subject-verb agreement in English and Spanish’, PAULA MÁRQUEZ-CAAMAÑO presents an experimental study which aims at examining the interactivity and opportunism of agreement operations in two languages with very different morphological architectures: English and Spanish. The objective of this investigation is two-fold: on the one hand, to report the results of the two experiments carried out by Márquez-Caamaño to shed some light on the mechanisms underlying agreement and, on the other, to take such results as a basis to reflect upon and assess the psychological adequacy of the existent theoretical models of agreement production. To this end, Márquez-Caamaño designed four sentence completion tasks in each language with a view to explore the potential penetration in the agreement system of two semantic variables, namely distributivity and concreteness. The results of the experiments show how subject-verb agreement errors are significantly higher in distributive (e.g. *The door of the houses were locked) as well as abstract (e.g. *The size of the lilies are big) preambles as a consequence of the strong influence of the inherent plurality of the former and the lack of imageability of the latter; this makes the detection of its number feature more difficult for the processor and, as a result, erroneously promotes plural agreement much more frequently than non-distributive and concrete preambles. It follows from her crosslinguistic analysis that morphology is a factor that permeates the agreement system when syntax and semantics are put into conflict, as the weaker the morphological component of a given language is, the more leaking of the conceptual features under examination is allowed, as is the case in English. All in all, Márquez-Caamaño’s evidence demonstrates that the agreement system is neither exclusively syntactic, nor exclusively semantic, but rather interactive, which thus implies that the most appropriate approach to this phenomenon is the ← 12 | 13 → constraint satisfaction model, the only framework which has tried to conciliate this syntax-semantics tug-of-war.

IVÁN TAMAREDO’s proposal, ‘The conventionalization of performance preferences: Pronoun omission in Indian English and Singapore English’, is developed within the fields of complexity and New Englishes. He focuses on the omission of pronouns in Indian English and Singapore English and the consequences of this omission in the communication process between speaker and hearer. Following Hawkins’ (2004) metric of communicative efficiency, Tamaredo argues that pronoun omission when their referents are highly accessible in discourse renders linguistic structures more efficient and easier to process, and the result is a more advantageous communicative process. Tamaredo’s main goal is to test Hawkins’ (2004) “Performance Grammar Correspondence Hypothesis” and to ascertain whether omitted pronouns become conventionalized anaphoric elements in the two varieties of English under consideration. The results show that, even though omitted pronouns are almost exclusively coindexed with highly accessible antecedents, overt pronouns are still the unmarked option for this type of referents in both varieties. However, Tamaredo finds signs of conventionalization in the omission of pronouns in coordinate clauses. With respect to the two varieties under study, Tamaredo points out that pronoun omission is a more established feature in Singapore English than in Indian English.

In the chapter ‘How is grammar presented in modern English textbooks? Methods and techniques used’, TAMILLA MAMMADOVA examines to what extent eight English as a Foreing Language textbooks of B2 and C1 level follow the teaching of grammar guidelines proposed by the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR 2001). Mammadova reviews the main traditional and more recent grammar teaching approaches and techniques and shows the tasks and activities used for grammar practicing. The materials selected for this purpose are adult textbooks published within the last 9 years which dedicate a separate section to the teaching of grammar. Most of the topics used in these textbooks are based on those included in the CEFR. Conscious-raising and rules learning and error correction are the most frequent approaches. These are present in gap filling, multiple choice ← 13 | 14 → and question and answer involving use of participation structure tasks. Another finding is that the eight textbooks focus more on the structure rather than on the practical applications of the grammar teaching since there are very few traces of the communicative teaching of grammar. This is reflected in the type of approaches found. The communicative approaches are hardly present in the textbooks as well as the grammar-translation, rules learning and error correction, task-based approach, and comprehension-based approach. The reduced number of tasks and activities used in the eight textbooks result in monotonousness and a decrease of the student’s interest in the learning of grammar.

MARIANA PASCUAL’s contribution to this collection, ‘Coming to terms with a traumatic past: Social actors in the Argentine media’, deals with the portrayal of the Argentine military dictatorship (1976–1984) in the media and its development through time. The focus is on the discoursal representation of social actors in six Argentinian newspapers from 1984 to 2004 in order to ascertain what actors are depicted and how their representation changes across the period. The results of the study show that two main groups of actors were portrayed in the news: those associated with the military dictatorship, and those that appeared after 1983. The actors most frequently represented were the military, their victims and opponents, and human rights organizations. In the early 80s, both the military and their victims were the most commonly represented social actors, but gradually, and after a period of silence, human rights organizations and other actors became the most prominent ones. This, in turn, symbolizes the decision that the Argentinian society collectively took of remembering the military dictatorship and its victims in order to come to terms with that horrifying part of their history.

MARTA MUÑOZ-RAMAL’s paper, ‘Evaluative language, women and advertising: The construction for women’s gender identity’, focuses on the language present in women’s magazines, especially in articles dealing with beauty tips and/or products, and on how it contributes to the creation of women’s identities. Martin and White’s Appraisal Theory is applied to the analysis of the lexical choices found in those articles in order to ascertain whether it can be used as a tool for the study of evaluative language. The study concludes, first, that Appraisal ← 14 | 15 → Theory can provide an explanation for the lexical choices characteristic of beauty magazine articles. Secondly, we can find in this type of publications a positive evaluation of beauty products by means of the use of positive language in order to persuade the readers to buy them. Thirdly, there is a negative evaluation of women’s bodies in order to encourage the readers to follow the beauty tips present in the articles (which are, in turn, positively evaluated). Finally, these articles create a beauty standard for women by means of the use of evaluative language, a standard that many women feel compelled to follow and that causes frustration in those that are not able to achieve it.

ÚRSULA KIRSTEN-TORRADO’s contribution, ‘Spelling-to-sound adaptations on Twitter: The relationship between spelling and pronunciation in a corpus of tweets’, describes the spelling-to-sound adaptations that occur in 100 tweets made by 10 different native English speakers. Before analysing the data, Kirsten-Torrado thoroughly classifies the different devices into four main groups: (i) reductions (subdivided into shortenings, contractions, other types of clippings, G-clippings, acronyms, initialisms, abbreviations and misspellings and typos); (ii) phoneticised respellings (further classified as letter/number homophones, non-conventional spellings, accent stylization and stylish talk); (iii) word deletion and punctuation (lack of function words, lack of punctuation, over-punctuation and the usage of capital letters); and, (iv) smiley faces and other symbols. Her results indicate that the most frequent type of spelling-to-sound adaptation found in Tweets written by native speakers of English are phoneticised spellings, followed closely by reductions (especially initialisms). Moreover, according to her data, it seems that native speakers of English have found a way of establishing connections between the spelling of a word and its pronunciation in order to make English pronunciation somewhat easier.

Details

Pages
298
ISBN (ePUB)
9783034327091
ISBN (PDF)
9783034327107
ISBN (MOBI)
9783034327114
ISBN (Softcover)
9783034320399
Language
English
Publication date
2017 (June)
Tags
Discourse Lexis Grammar
Published
Bern, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2017. 298 pp., 14 b/w ill., 6 coloured ill., 55 b/w tables, 2 graphs

Biographical notes

Sofia Bemposta-Rivas (Volume editor) Carla Bouzada-Jabois (Volume editor) Yolanda Fernández-Pena (Volume editor) Tamara Bouso (Volume editor) Yolanda J. Calvo-Benzies (Volume editor) Iván Tamaredo (Volume editor)

Sofía Bemposta-Rivas, Carla Bouzada-Jabois and Yolanda Fernández-Pena are research assistants and doctoral students in English Linguistics at the University of Vigo. Tamara Bouso and Iván Tamaredo are research assistants and doctoral students in English Linguistics at the University of Santiago de Compostela. Yolanda J. Calvo Benzies has recently obtained a position as assistant lecturer at the University of the Balearic Islands.

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Title: New trends and methodologies in applied English language research III