Referential choice in foreigner talk and in learners’ speech in Japanese
This study of referential choice by Japanese native speakers and learners of Japanese has revealed some significant features in three different types of speech: 1) NS (native speaker)-NS interaction; 2) FT (foreigner talk) and; 3) NNSs’ (non-native speakers’) speech production. The study revealed that both NS in FT and NNS simplified their referential choices. It demonstrates, moreover, that the development of referential choice by NNS correlates with their acquisition of syntax. This experiment was conducted to determine the underlying mechanism for referential choice. The results indicate that potential ambiguity and attention/focus shift affected the referential choices for both NS and NNS of Japanese. Excessive use of both full NPs and ellipsis were observed in NNS speech; by contrast only excessive use of full NPs was observed in FT. This may be explained in terms of the different underlying mechanisms for referential choice used by NS and NNS: different cognitive orientations in the use of two principles of speech production: 1) the clarity principle; and 2) the information economy principle (Williams 1988). Furthermore, the development of use of full NP and ellipsis by NNS varied according to their level of syntactic development.