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Cognitive Insights into Discourse Markers and Second Language Acquisition

Edited By Iria Bello, Carolina Bernales, Maria Vittoria Calvi and Elena Landone

This volume employs a range of empirical methodologies – including eyetracking, direct observation, qualitative research and corpus analysis – to describe the use of discourse markers in second language acquisition. The variety of different approaches used by the contributors facilitates the observation of correlations between morphosyntactic, semantic and pragmatic features of discourse markers and enriches our understanding of the cognitive behaviour of L2 speakers, both in the understanding and production of texts. Some of the essays examine the acquisitional paths of discourse markers in instructional and natural contexts, with a particular focus on situations of language contact and social integration; others describe experimental studies that analyse the cognitive processing of discourse markers in L2 learners. All the contributions aim to offer new insights which will expand and develop existing theoretical claims about this area of study and open up avenues for further research.

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8 Expressing agreement in L2 Italian: Strategies and discourse markers in Spanish learners (Margarita Borreguero Zuloaga)

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MARGARITA BORREGUERO ZULOAGA

8 Expressing agreement in L2 Italian: Strategies and discourse markers in Spanish learners

Introduction

This paper aims at analysing the linguistic strategies employed by Spanish learners of L2 Italian when expressing agreement in interaction. Expressing agreement is one of the most frequent conversational moves, both in formal and informal interactions, and it has proved to be one of the best indicators of linguistic competence in a foreign language as it requires comprehending what has been said by the conversational partner and overtly expressing both comprehension and solidarity with the content of the previous utterances.

One of the main problems when analysing lexical markers of agreement1 is the difficulty to disentangle agreement from signalling understanding because in all cases the same lexical units may be used to fulfil different discourse functions related to a positive stance (cf. Kerbrat-Orecchioni 2016: 34). The situation is even more complicated in L2 interactions because in this case speakers do not master the use of lexical markers and tend to overuse or underuse them or to assign them some functions that are not conveyed by those lexical units in native speakers (NSs).

However, providing positive evidence is particularly frequent in L2 interactions, especially in non-native speakers (NNSs) with a low linguistic competence because it is a way of encouraging each other to go on with the interaction and a way of reassuring mutual understanding. According to Condon and Čech (2007)...

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