Research and Applications for Foreign Language Teaching and Assessment
Analysing the Language of Interpersonal Relations in Corpora of Elicited Learner and Native Speaker Interactions in English
This chapter reports and discusses the results of two strands of investigation carried out on two corpora of elicited speech: a learner corpus of interactions in English and a corpus of interactions in English between native speakers. There are two main areas of analysis: (i) the speech function of command, and (ii) modal expressions2. Both analyses investigate the linguistic repertoire of the native speakers and the learners, and attempt to reveal differences and/or similarities in the ways they interact. In so doing, both strands of investigation adopt a Systemic-Functional-Linguistic (henceforth SFL) approach to language (e.g. Eggins 2004; Halliday/Matthiessen 2004) focussing on two different aspects of the interpersonal metafunction, that is, “our role relationships with other people and our attitudes to each other” (Eggins 2004: 12). The two investigations were prompted by the observation that differences between learners and native speakers in the realizations of the speech function of command and in the use of modal verbs are often not a matter of correct or incorrect grammar, but are rather due to cultural differences which bring about different interpersonal choices at the lexicogrammatical level (Halliday/Matthiessen 2004). A lack of awareness of these differences may cause face threatening acts (Brown/Levinson ← 221 | 222 → 1987), while becoming aware of them can make learners better communicators with speakers from other countries.
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