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Learning the Rules of Academic Talk

A Longitudinal Study of Pragmatic Change

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 November 2008

Kathleen Bardovi-Harlig
Affiliation:
Indiana University
Beverly S. Hartford
Affiliation:
Indiana University

Abstract

This paper is a longitudinal study of the acquisition of pragmatic competence. Advanced adult nonnative speakers of English were taped in advising sessions over the course of a semester. Two speech acts, suggestions and rejections, were analyzed according to their frequency, form, and successfulness and compared with similar data gathered for native speakers. The nonnative speakers showed change toward the native speaker norms in their ability to employ appropriate speech acts, moving toward using more suggestions and fewer rejections, and became more successful negotiators. However, they changed less in their ability to employ appropriate forms of the speech acts, continuing to use fewer mitigators than the native speakers. Furthermore, unlike native speakers, they also used aggravators. We claim that these results may be explained by the availability of input: Learners receive positive and negative feedback from the advisor regarding the desirability and outcome of particular speech acts, but they do not receive such feedback regarding the appropriateness of the forms of such speech acts.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1993

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