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The Advanced Learner Variety

The Case of French


Emmannuelle Labeau and Florence Myles

This volume originates from a workshop entitled ‘Revisiting advanced varieties in L2 learning’ organized by the editors at Aston University (Birmingham, UK) in June 2006. It consists of a peer-reviewed selection of the best contributions.
Many different approaches have been used in the study of advanced learners and their characteristics. Specific areas of language have repeatedly been found to remain problematic even at advanced levels, and much empirical research has been carried out. In particular, areas of grammar such as the tense or agreement systems often pose difficulties, as well as lexical idiosyncrasies such as formulaic sequences, and the discourse/pragmatic constraints operating in French. This volume brings together recent research exploring the advanced learner capabilities in each of those domains, as well as possible explanations for the difficulties they raise for the L2 learner of French. Additionally, one of the areas which has received considerable attention in the French L2 literature on advanced learners, tense and aspect, is also explored from the point of view of French learners of English, to explore any parallels. In presenting this research, the book clarifies the concept of the advanced learner: how does s/he differ from native speakers and why?


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Henry Tyne - Style in L2: The Icing on the Cake? 243


HENRY TYNE Style in L2: The Icing on the Cake? Introduction We do not all speak in the same way to each other all of the time. Rather, we vary our speech as we interact; we adopt different stances across the different social situations we encounter and we behave differently. This variation is known as style,1 and, as Gadet (2005: 1359) points out, it can be observed in all languages, where it plays a fundamental role insofar as it ‘renders the negotiation of social meaning possible’. And this leads us to ask the important question: what of style in L2? In research on L2, style is generally dealt with under the wider label ‘sociolinguistic competence’. The focus is typically on learners’ ability (or non-ability) to produce target language-like (henceforth TL-like) variation, whether it be a matter of style per se or ‘sociolect’ (diastratic variation) or both (see various articles by Mougeon and his colleagues in Canada – e.g. Mougeon & Rehner 1999). It is widely accepted in the literature that mastery of this variation is a late feature in the acquisition process (Howard et al. 2006), the final hurdle, even (Dewaele & Mougeon 2002). This does indeed appear to be the case for those linguistic variables which have typically been studied, in phonology, lexis and grammatical features such as ne omission and expression of future tense. 1 The term ‘style’ has been used to describe many different phenomena, from general aes- thetics in speech to specific phonological variables. It is often used...

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