Interlanguage Discourse Lecture 9 Xinzhang Yang Interlanguage Discourse • In many of the proposals to specify the components of communicative competence, it is emphasized that this notion does not only comprise a language user’s knowledge about linguistic rules and elements (linguistic competence e.g. Canale and Swain 1980, grammatical competence e.g. Leech 1983) and about the nature and function of communicative acts (sociolinguitic cimpetence, e.g. Canale and Swain 1980, pragmatic competence e.g. Leech 1983). Interlanguage Discourse • It also includes the ability to use these underlying types of knowledge appropriately in reception and production in order to achieve communicative goals. Breen and Candlin (1980) refer to this aspect of communicative competence as the communicative abilities of interpretation, expression and negotiation. Following a terminology common in cognitive psychology and activated as procedural knowledge being termed declarative knowledge. Interlanguage Discourse • Within language users’ procedural knowledge, several subtypes can be specified, e.g. procedures in speech reception and production that operate at the mental level, thus manifesting themselves only indirectly in performance (cf. interpretation” and expression” in Breen and Candlin’s model). From those, a subset of procedures can be distinguished which serve to establish, maintain, regulate and terminate discourse, thus manifesting themselves overtly in performance. Interlanguage Discourse • As these procedures relate to the communicative interplay between discourse participants rather than to the speaker’s and listener’s psycholinguistic activity, I shall refer to them as interactive procedures (cf. “Negotiation” in Breen and Candlin’s terminology). Interlanguage Discourse • • • • • • The operations they include serve to - open and close discourse - distribute turns at talk - ensure discourse coherence and cohesion - repair trouble sources - realize speech acts in socially appropriate ways. Interlanguage Discourse • Some of these procedures can operate on discourse structure alone, without requiring specific linguistic means for their implementation. Turn-taking, for instance, can be effected at any possible completion point without specific linguistic devices indicating the current speaker’s wish to give up and the current hearer’s intention to take the turn. Furthermore, repair can be initiated by the hearer simply withholding signals of understanding or agreement, and completed by the speaker replacing the original utterance, or an element thereof. Interlanguage Discourse • However, even though these interactive procedures can be implemented by exploitation of discourse structure alone, they very often are performed by means of discourse regulating gambits, explicit repair requests and repair indicating devices. For the majority of interactive procedures, though, the choice of more or less pre-determined and conventionalized linguistic devices is obligatory. Interlanguage Discourse • The structural and functional slots in opening and closing exchanges are realized with specific linguistic routines; discourse cohesion is effected, among other things, by the appropriate selection of conjunction, sentence adverbs and pro-forms; performing speech acts presupposes a repertoire of linguistic means by which illocutionary acts are conventionally carried out in a given speech community, and which can transport the interpersonal values a speaker wishes to convey in a particular context. Interlanguage Discourse • Applying interactive procedures appropriately therefore implies both knowing and using efficiently the properties of discourse structure, and selecting and combing declarative linguistic and other knowledge in al goal-related and context adequate way. Interlanguage Discourse • For foreign language learners, this entails that they can partly rely on the interactive procedures they already posses as part of their native (L1) communicative knowledge, partly have to develop new declarative knowledge, specific for the foreign language and culture, as a prerequisite for the procedural knowledge to operate. Clearly, foreign language learners’ task is facilitated by the communicative knowledge and abilities they have previously attained through experience with their native language and possibly other foreign languages. Interlanguage Discourse • However, it appears from investigations of learners’ communicative behavior in interaction with native speakers or with other learners that they do not always make efficient use of their previously acquired interactive procedures. Such non-transfer of procedural knowledge may be due to a variety of factors, for instance lack of relevant declarative foreign language or world knowledge, the assessment of that transfer of L1 interactive procedures may not be culturally permissible, cognitive constraints posed by the reduced accessibility of required linguistic and other knowledge, or affective variables such as heightened anxiety in an unfamiliar situation. Educational and noneducational contexts • It is common in second language acquisition research to distinguish two basically different learning contexts: “actual” contexts where learning takes place as a byproduct of communication, and the second or foreign language classroom as a context which is specifically designed for language learning. These two contexts are “noneducational’ and “educational’, respectively. Educational and noneducational contexts • Non-educational contexts comprise a great variety of settings which which are more or less institutionalised, formal, and familiar to the participants, characterised by the presence or absence of visual contact and immediate feedback, etc. Second or foreign language classrooms, too, can be of very different kinds, a first important distinction being whether L2 is both teaching object or medium, or whether it is subservient to the teaching of subject matter. Educational and noneducational contexts • A further distinction is to be made according to the organization of classroom activities, particularly whether the teacher and learners participate more symmetrically in theses procedures. As has been emphasized by Long (1980), it is mandatory for L2 classroom research to make such distinctions explicit, both with respect to the descriptive adequacy of the analytical systems used and, more importantly, in view of the pedagogical consequences that hopefully may be drawn from such research. Educational and noneducational contexts • The types of non-educational land educational context can be specified as their classical prototypes: Dynamic face-to-face conversation as exemplifying non-educational discourse, and ‘traditional’ foreign language (FL) instruction with the teacher mediating and controlling all official interaction, as illustrating educational discourse. • The way interactive procedures are activated in the FL classroom has an impact on learners’ use of such procedures in non-educational discourse. opening and closing discourse • Discourse opening and closing have been described as transition rituals between states of reduced and increased availability for talk, and vice versa. Their function is thus primarily phatic. Due to their ritual character, predetermined structure and frequency of occurrence, they are typically realised by routine formulae. These have been defined by Coulmas as: opening and closing discourse • “expressions whose occurrence is closely bound to specific situations which are, on the basis of an evaluation of such situations, highly predictable in a communicative course of events. Their meaning is pragmatically conditioned, and their usage is motivated by the relevant characteristics of such social situations” (1979:240). openings in noneducational discourse • Based on the work of Goffman (1972), Schegloff (1972), Berens (1976), Ventola (1979), Edmondson and House (1981), Kasper (1981) and House (1982), the functions and sequence of moves in opening exchanges can be specified as follows: openings in noneducational discourse • Greetings: reciprocal exchange of an opening signal chosen from a closed class of routine formulae. Ventola (1979) distinguishes, among others, short greetings” (hello, hi) and timebound greetings” (good morning, good afternoon). Factors determining the choice of an appropriate opening routine are the familiarity between the participants, formality of context, and time of day. openings in noneducational discourse • Indicating territory invasion: in case where the availability for talk cannot be taken for granted, the initiator of the interaction indicates her/his intrusion on the other person’s territory (excuse me). • Identification: indication of identity in case of lack of visual contact and/or previous acquaintance. The latter condition triggers identification only when knowledge of participants’ identity is deemed necessary for the interaction (my name’s NN, its NN). openings in noneducational discourse • Phatic inquiry: ritualized inquiry after the interlocutor’s wellbeing, realized by routine formula (how are you, how are things). Discourse proposition: Eliciting. • Phatic reply: ritualized response to phatic inquiry, realized by a routine formula (fine, thanks) and obey reciprocating the inquiry ( how are you). Discourse position: Responding. openings in noneducational discourse • Phatic remark: mentioning inconsequential states of affairs in order to maintain the interaction. Edmonson and House (1981) point out that the personal remarks (I haven’t seen you for ages! You look marvelous) are common among familiar participants, whereas more neutral remarks (e.g. about the weather) are typical for non-familiars. • Topic introduction: marks transition from opening to talk (I want to see you about something). openings in noneducational discourse • The actual selection of these opening functions and of the linguistic means by which they can be realised depends, of course, on the pragmatic constraints of the prevalent context. • The analysis of opening procedures in the Bochum data revealed that the learners attempted to perform the same types of opening moves as did the English native speakers in the control group, i.e. they did not seem to functionally reduce their communicative goals in this phase. However, the procedures by which the individual moves were realized proved to be inadequate in many cases. openings in noneducational discourse • Violation of functional, sequential, co-occurrence and selectional restrictions occurred in a number of opening moves. Some instances are the following. Sequential rules are violated in the performance of the greeting by L in (1): • (1) (patient entering doctor’s consultation office) • N: oh come in erm Miss er Hammerschmidt yes • L1: hello • N: well what can I do for you • L2: hello Dr Josephson well erm you treated me for tonsillitis.... openings in noneducational discourse • Deletion of responding greetings is obligatory if the first speaker has already progressed to a later stage in the opening phase. Here, N has already initiated the core phase by producing an eliciting topic introducer in her second turn; this utterance constitutes the first pair part that is conditionally relevant for L’s response. The learner seems unable to revise her original speech plan, viz. to perform a greeting, in view of the input she receives from her interlocutor. openings in noneducational discourse • Co-occurrence restrictions are not observed in the learner’s performing a greeting in (2): • (2) (L enters shop as a customer, facing an unfamiliar person) • L: well hello erm • N: hello openings in noneducational discourse • L opens the interaction with a starter, a gambit used of for indicating turn-taking. The cooccurrence of starters with greetings seems to be heavily restricted in English. In fact, in -noneducational contexts, it seems only permissible if one of the following conditions holds: (a) Contact between the interlocutors has already been established; here, well can signal casual, unmarked reestablishing of contact, e.g. as in (employee to employer): well afternoon Jim here’s the last basket. (b) The speaker wishes to convey surprise over meeting the interlocutor, as in openings in noneducational discourse • (knock on S1’s door) • S1: (from inside) hello hang on • S2: hurry up • S1: (opens door) well hello openings in noneducational discourse • Inadequate selection of an opening function is documented in the learner’s indicating territory invasion and using a formal topic introduction in (3). • (3) (at a wine-and-cheese party) • L: excuse me please may I ask whether you are alone here • N: er yes (laughing) openings in noneducational discourse • As it is the function of social events such as the one in question that unfamiliar get to know each other, addressing an unfamiliar person is an unmarked and perfectly permissible action, which therefore renders the territory invasion signal inappropriate. By the same token, the topic introduction is uncalled for, as the phatic talk continues, rather than some referentially oriented discourse being initiated. openings in noneducational discourse • The instances of inadequately performed procedures in discourse openings discussed so far exemplify the learner’s failure to select and combine relevant opening functions from their declarative discourse knowledge. The following examples illustrate inappropriate selections from the learner’s repertoire of linguistic means in opening sequences. As was mentioned in the introduction, openings and closings are typically realized by means of routine formulae. openings in noneducational discourse • A prerequisite for selecting appropriate linguistic routines is obviously that such items are part of the learners’ declarative knowledge. Less trivially, it requires identifying those slots in a discourse which are conventionally realized by (a) routine formula(e), and to choose a/the routine formula by which this slot is conventionally filled. The learners in the Bochum corpus fail to observe both these requirements in their performance of opening moves. openings in noneducational discourse • Total failure to select routinized linguistic means is prevalent in the learners’ realizations of phatic inquiries and replies, of which (4) is an example: • (4) (two friends meeting in a pub) • N: hello there Steve • L1: hey hello Joe • N: I thought I’ll see you in here • L2: oh how are you • N: uh fine how are things with you then • L3: uuh very bad you know openings in noneducational discourse • The trouble with the learner’s phatic reply in L3 is not so much that he replies in the negative. after all, participants do not have to renounce principles of sincere interaction with their friends in order to be sufficiently phatic. Rather, the modality by which the propositional content is conveyed does not seem adequate, even in interactions among familiars. A more downtoned routine, instead of a blunt statement, would be more suitable (e.g. oh er not too fantastic I’m afraid). openings in noneducational discourse • Inadequate choice of routine formulae occur in a greeting, as in: • (5) (student entering his teacher’s study) • N: yes come in • L: good day sir • N: oh hello Achim have a seat • The learner does not observe the diachronic and discoursal restrictions imposed on the routine good day, as oppose to hello or good afternoon. openings in noneducational discourse • Likewise, territory invasion is often marked by the learners by a routine formula which, at least in British English, is conventionally used in a different function: • (6) (student has to cancel appointment to babysit) • N: hello • L: hello Mrs Norton erm I beg your pardon I wanted to have a short er small talk with you • N: well come in openings in noneducational discourse • ( I beg your) pardon is normally used to other-initiate repair, while territory invasion is performed by means of excuse me. The learner in (6) chose correctly from the apologizing routines but fails to select the particular one designed to mark territory invasion. openings in noneducational discourse • As to topic introductions, a further realization deficiency is noticeable, which is also pervasive in these learners’ performance of non-routinized speech acts, namely, to carry them out in such a way that not only the desired discourse goal is reached but also the intended relational (interpersonal) goal. This aspect is formally conveyed by the modality of a discourse function ( or speech act). In the literature on politeness in verbal interaction, the conditions and realization procedures for cooperative communication at the relational level are detailed. openings in noneducational discourse • The central concept in this respect is that of face, viz. participants’ social needs for respect and recognition, by others as well as by themselves. In the present context, it will suffice to mention three principles according to which cooperative participants mark the relational function: • (a) if the act to be performed is neutral with respect to S’s and H’s face wants, the relational function is unmarked. Typical example: representative speech acts. openings in noneducational discourse • (b) if the act to be performed is facesupporting, its force is often aggravated. Typical example: expressive speech acts such as thanking, congratulating, apologizing. • (c) if the act to be performed is facethreatening, its force is normally mitigated. Typical example: directive speech acts. openings in noneducational discourse • Topic introductions fall under either the first or the last of these principles, depending on the content of the ensuing interaction. They are typically of the last kind, i.e. foreshowing a potential conflict between the interlocutors. Mitigation is therefore called for. The learners, however, prefer realization as in (7) and (8). • (7) (L is going to ask N to lend her some records) • L: well Colin erm I’ve a question • N: yah openings in noneducational discourse • • • • (8) (same) L: erm Colin we’ve got a problem erm N: oh Theses realizations are reminiscent of the way German pupils perform bids in their English lessons, where they may be perfectly appropriate, given the interactional norms of educational discourse. In (7) and (8), however, the lack of mitigation is unfortunate, as L is about to perform a face-threatening act towards N. openings in noneducational discourse • It is improbable that learners at high-intermediate level should not have at least some lexical, syntactic and phrasal mitigating devices as part of their declarative knowledge in fact they do. It is equally unlikely that their relevant L1-based pragmatic knowledge differs to any significant extent from that of English native speakers’ comparisons of data on discourse openings in the English and German native control group have not shown any differences in modality. openings in noneducational discourse • Rather, the learners’ failure to appropriately apply interactive procedures at the relational level, resulting in discourse moves such as (7) and (8) instead of downgraded versions such as there’s something I wanted to ask or I’ve got a bit of a problem actually seems to be traceable to certain properties of FL classroom discourse. • Finally, second pair parts in identification exchanges proved to be troublesome in that they evidence a lack of cohesion. Compare (9) as one example: openings in noneducational discourse • • • • • (9) (L opening his door to unfamiliar visitor) L1: yeah come in N: hello are you Mr Bechstein L2: yeah may name is Dirk Bechstein A cohesive response would have been a short confirmation of N’s tentative other identification, e.g. yes and/or that’s right. openings in noneducational discourse • As documented by Kasper (1981) and Stemmer (1981), incohesive responses are found in learners’ second pair parts outside opening phases as well. Again, there seems to be a connection to the learners’ classroom experience: answering in whole sentences” is a classroom specific discourse norm observed by many teachers in FL teaching. openings in noneducational discourse • From the above, we note that opening procedures are activated inefficiently in that learners (1) violate functional sequencing, co-occurrence and selectional restrictions; (2) fail to choose, or select an inappropriate, routine formula; (3) fail to mark opening functions for modality; and (4) perform incohesive second pair parts. closing in non-educational discourse • Closing phases serve primarily three functions: “(1) to warn of future inaccessibility, (2) to reinforce relationships and to support future encounters, and (3) to summarize the substantive portions of the interaction”. In order to terminate encounters, adjacency pairs are performed by means of which transition relevance, which otherwise ensures that the discourse can be continued, is suspended. The following closing functions can be distinguished: closing in non-educational discourse • pre-close initiation: marks end of the preceding topic and an offer to terminate the discourse, performed by the current speaker (fine, okay). Initiating preclosers are possible rather than definite closing procedures as they leave the possibility for the interlocutor to reject the closing initiation by entering into a new topic. • Pre-close acceptance: second pair part to a preclose initiator, signaling acceptance of the first speaker’s offer to terminate the discourse (right, okay). closing in non-educational discourse • Legitimizing: (possible) pre-closer justifying the termination of the discourse by reference to, e.g. the speaker’s commitments ( I must be off, shops are closing in ten minutes) or concern for the hearer (you’re looking tired). • Conclusion: (possible) pre-closer summarizing the results from the preceding interaction and ensuring common agreement. Often performed in adjacency pairs (S1: Let’s do it that way then okay. S2: Okay). closing in non-educational discourse • Welfare concern: expresses good wishes for the hearer, either unspecifically (all the best) or related to a specific event (drive carefully now). • Thanks: expressing gratitude about welfare concern (responding ) or about some event related to the preceding interaction (initiating) (thanks (a lot, again)(for looking after the cat). • Minimizing: response to initiating thanks, minimizing cost of act for which gratitude has been expressed (not at all, pleasure), or realized para/extralinguistically. closing in non-educational discourse • Termination: reciprocal exchange of routine formula indicating end of interaction. Choices of appropriate routine formulae depend, for instance, on the degree of formality (good-bye vs cheerio) and whether or not the participants expect resume their interaction soon (see you later vs bye-bye). Sex role seems to be another relevant variable. closing in non-educational discourse • In the Bochum corpus, the learners’ active participation in closing exchanges is conspicuously lower than in opening phases. They produce neither initiating pre-closers, conclusions, terminations nor welfare concerns to the extent the native speakers in the control group do. But leave the performance of these initiating functions to the more competent native interlocutor. At least in part, this lack of initiating closing activity might be due to the role plays, which left it completely up to the interlocutors how to manage the closing sequence. closing in non-educational discourse • By contrast, it followed from most of the role descriptions that the learner had to take the initiative to open the interaction. One consequence from this lack of active participation is that the learners do not perform as many inappropriate closing functions as they did in the opening phase. Rather, they apply closing procedures inefficiently by choosing unsuitable linguistic realizations, in particular inappropriate routine formulae, from their declarative knowledge. closing in non-educational discourse • In the English native control group, speakers show a clear preference for using “empty”, routinized legitimations rather than more content-oriented ones. The learners, by contrast, prefer nonroutinized legitimations, which are sometimes realized rather unidiomatically, as in (11): • (11) (the gas fire has exploded in L’s room; the landlady has made various offers of compensation) • L: perhaps I think er it’s enough and I’m I’m very tired and er • N: all right I’ll just go and get the electric fire then okay closing in non-educational discourse • Unlike the routines discussed in connection to openings, and those by which most other closing function are performed, the trouble with legitimations seems to be that the learners do not have legitimation routines as part of their declarative knowledge. They therefore have to resort to more content-oriented legitimations, the planning of which can pose considerable problems, as is indicated by the many hesitation phenomena produced by the learner in (11). closing in non-educational discourse • Thanks in response to the interlocutor’s welfare concern are sometimes expressed by an uptaking gambit as in (12), or a combination of such a gambit with an explicit thanks (13). • (12) (student saying goodbye to his teacher) • N: bye-bye • L: bye-bye • N: and a good journey • L: oh • N: bye • L: bye closing in non-educational discourse • (13) (two travellers on a train) • N: well I’m sorry I’ve got to get out at this next stop so er all the best with your studies • L: oh thanks • As both the initiating welfare concern and the responding thanks are neither unexpected in the given context nor in any way costly to N, an uptaker indicating surprise (oh) seems an in appropriate realization of a thanks. closing in non-educational discourse • As the terminations, there is a tendency for learners to underdifferentiate the selection of routine formulae, as is brought out in (14) • (14) (two friends in a pub) • N: okay I’ll see you there tonight yah • L: yes good bye • N: okay cheers closing in non-educational discourse • The learner does not observe the selectional restrictions imposed on termination routines: short term intermissions of contact are indicated by different signals, such as produced by the native speaker. • Finally, it should be mentioned that the learners often select closing procedures which are perfectly appropriate, though learner-specific in the frequency with which they are effected. They make use of their declarative knowledge about closings as being typically realized by means of adjacency pairs, which allow for reciprocal use of closing routines. closing in non-educational discourse • As the learners mostly perform the responding parts in closing exchanges, this implied that they can realize their second pair parts by simply repeating the interlocutor’s initiating move, often in a reduced form. Clearly, this is an efficient closing procedure, which is sometimes adopted by both learners and native speakers, as in the following terminal exchange: closing in non-educational discourse • (15) (student and his holiday employer) • N: so we’ll see you then tomorrow again bright and early • L: tomorrow morning same time same place • N: same time same place (laughing) (...) well byebye now • L: bye-bye • N: see you in the morning • L: in the morning closing in non-educational discourse • From this brief overview on closings in non-educational discourse, it can be concluded that the learners tend to functionally reduce their closing activity to performing responding moves. Closing procedures sometimes operate inefficiently, due to either lack of appropriate routines in the learners’ declarative repertoire or inadequate selection from it. Interlanguage Discourse Thank you!