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Clausal Complements in Native and Learner Spoken English

A Corpus-based Study with Lindsei and Vicolse


Beatriz Tizon-Couto

This study deals with the frequency and use of clausal complementation in the oral production of two different Spanish learner groups (i.e. Galician/Spanish learners and Spanish learners) as compared with a further learner group (i.e. German learners) and with native speakers (British students). By using corpus and learner linguistic approaches, this research aims to find out and explain the similarities and differences regarding the use of clausal complementation structures in the oral English of several groups of non-native and native speakers. In addition, this study also depicts the process of collection of the oral corpus VICOLSE, which contains transcripts of spoken English data produced by bilingual Galician/Spanish learners. The identification of variation in the use of clausal complementation across the data sheds light on the particular characteristics of spoken learner language syntax/structuring.
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1. Learner language studies


The establishment of learner language research as a particular area of linguistic investigation can be traced to the late 1940s and early 1950s, when CA and EA started to compare L1 and L2 and to look at data produced by learners, particularly at errors, with the purpose of improving the learning and teaching of languages. CA researchers were able to find some connection between the learner’s errors and the difference between the learner’s mother tongue (L1) and their second language (L2). CA was mainly concerned with pinpointing the source of errors by contrasting the two languages. EA researchers took on the role of turning learner language (rather than L1 and L2 comparison) into the central element to be examined.

As commented by Selinker (1992: 1), the publication of Corder’s seminal 1967 paper “The Significance of Learners’ Errors” initiated a large number of empirical studies about IL in Second Language Acquisition (SLA). This chapter aims to present a general overview of the evolution of SLA research in order to give a historical perspective of contemporary SLA. The definition of learner language or interlanguage in SLA studies is taken here as the starting point in section 1.1. Furthermore, the present chapter reviews, in chronological order, the traditional approaches to the study of learner language. In section 1.2.1 a brief summary of the evolution of the most controversial aspects of the field of research known as CA is offered. section 1.2.2 deals with the new concepts and ideas introduced by the...

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