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The Construction of Discourse by Nonnative Speakers

Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 November 2008

Beverly S. Hartford
Affiliation:
Indiana University

Extract

This thematic issue on the construction of discourse by nonnative speakers brings together papers from a variety of perspectives. The papers illustrate how our understanding of various aspects of learner language are enriched by viewing them when situated in text. Of the variety of analyses used in this issue, the most well-known to SLA researchers investigates the organization of the text itself and the learners' ability to structure such a text. Other investigations in this issue include the study of grammatical features of interlanguage that contribute to the structure of the text and, conversely, the study of textual features that determine the use of grammatical features: neither of which may be accessible through the analysis of sentence-level production. In addition to grammatical features, the study of lexical development can be enhanced through the study of text. Whereas lexical inventories alone do not reveal the true nature of the learners' lexicon, a study of text reveals not only which lexical items are selected by learners but also how they are employed in discourse. These studies of text extend to other areas of linguistic competence as well. In the study of pragmatic competence, viewing speech acts as they are situated in speech events (e.g., the speech act of recommendation in the speech event of a letter of recommendation) not only contributes to our understanding of how certain acts are realized in context, but also how they contribute to the structure of the discourse. Finally, in the construction of text, speakers and writers must take into account the addressee.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995

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References

Douglas, D., & Selinker, L. (1985). Principles for language tests within the “discourse domains” theory of interlanguage. Language Testing, 2, 205226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hoey, M. (1991). Patterns of lexis in text. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Selinker, L, & Douglas, D. (1985). Wrestling with ‘context’ in interlanguage theory. Applied Linguistics, 6, 190204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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