Information structural transfer in advanced Dutch EFL writing
A cross-linguistic longitudinal study
This article presents a case study on the role of L1 transfer of language-specific features of information structure in very advanced L2 learners. Cross-linguistic differences in the information status of clause-initial position in a V2 language like Dutch compared to an SVO language like English are hypothesized to result in overuse of clause-initial adverbials in the writing of advanced Dutch learners of English. This hypothesis was tested by evaluating advanced Dutch EFL learners’ use of clause-initial adverbials in a syntactically annotated longitudinal corpus of student writing, compared to a native reference corpus. Results indicate that Dutch EFL learners overuse clause-initial adverbials of place as well as addition adverbials that refer back to an antecedent in the directly preceding discourse. Although there is a clear development in the direction of native writing, transfer of information structural features of Dutch can still be observed even after three years of extended academic exposure.
Keywords: second language acquisition, information structure, L1 transfer, advanced learners, EFL, clause-initial position
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