Article published in:EUROSLA Yearbook: Volume 11 (2011)
Edited by Leah Roberts, Gabriele Pallotti and Camilla Bettoni
[EUROSLA Yearbook 11] 2011
► pp. 244–272
Beyond canonical order
The acquisition of marked word orders in Italian as a second language
Learners can go a long way in making themselves understood by mapping conceptual arguments such as agent, event and patient straight onto canonical word order. However, in order to optimise communicative intentions they need to go beyond it. We will discuss such notions as canonical order, functional assignment and marked word orders within the framework of Processability Theory. This SLA theory seems particularly suited to do so, having recently expanded its scope by adding a discourse-pragmatically motivated syntactic component to the original morpho-syntactic one. We take Italian as an example, a head-marking, pro-drop language located towards the less configurational end of the typological spectrum, characterised by a rich morphology and a flexible syntax which is highly sensitive to pragmatic and discourse choices. For these typological characteristics Italian is well suited for testing how learners acquire the skills to free up the rigidity of canonical order, and learn to add their own perspective and emphases to the propositional content in order to guide the listener’s attention, e.g., by topicalising and focalising different elements of their message in an unequivocal (that is, grammatically accurate) manner.
Published online: 03 August 2011
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