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From time to time: structuring temporality in advanced L2 discourse

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My current study examines patterns exhibited in the ways Czech and Hungarian advanced learners of English organise temporal information in discourse. Previous research on reference to time has shown that (a) in L1 discourse there are clearly distinct language-specific processes when establishing and maintaining temporal coherence and (b) L2 discourse largely reflects principles of information organisation typical of the speaker’s mother tongue. These claims have been supported by experiments focusing on a variety of discourse dimensions, namely topic time management (cf. Carroll & von Stutterheim 2003); regulation of granularity and condensation levels (cf. Noyau et al. 2005); as well as selecting event perspectivation frames (cf. von Stutterheim & Lambert 2005).

Based on contrasts linked to temporal reference in the discussed languages, the main question addressed in my study is how highly advanced L2 speakers from typologically unrelated L1s go about when construing events in English as second language. Two experiments were designed to detect whether speakers who have mastered the formal devices for temporal reference in L2 (a) still rely on principles of temporal information structure typical of their L1s; or (b) adopt target-like strategies for organising temporality in discourse alongside learning a new language; or© employ other techniques.

This talk is part of the RCEAL Tuesday Colloquia series.

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