Chapter 4Is it really easier to acquire a closely-related language?
A study on the expression of iteration and continuation in L2 French
While the impact of cross-linguistic influence in the L2 use of verb morphology has been widely recognized, less is known about its role when optional temporal markers are involved. By means of a retelling task (The Finite Story), our study compares the use of optional markers of continuation and iteration in the production of French native speakers and Italian and German learners of French, at intermediate and advanced proficiency levels. Besides some common developmental tendencies shared by both Italian and German learners, such as an earlier use of lexical markers (adverbs: toujours, encore, de nouveau) over morpho-syntactic ones (verbal periphrasis of continuity, iterative prefix re-V), the results show a negative effect of partial, and therefore misleading, similarities between Italian and French (Fr. encore = It. ancora, Fr. toujours = It. sempre). In comparison to German learners, Italian learners tend to underuse structures not available in their L1 (continuative use of toujours), and to overuse structures available in both native and target languages but dispreferred by target language speakers (continuer à + Vinf for continuation, à/de nouveau for iteration). The Italian L1 data thus reveal both the absence of a facilitative effect of linguistic proximity at the intermediate level, and the negative effects of a presumed similarity at the advanced level.
- 2.Cross-linguistic influence: The effect of proximity / distance and transferability conditions
- 3.The present study
- 3.1Data collection / design: Subjects and task
- 3.2The temporal relations investigated: Continuation and iteration in the Finite Story narrative task
- 3.3Some similarities and differences between the iterative and continuative means available in the languages investigated
- 4.1Iterative contexts
- 4.1.1Native productions in French, Italian and German
- 4.1.2Learner productions in French L2
- 4.2Continuative contexts
- 4.2.1Native productions in French, Italian and German
- 4.2.2Learner productions in French L2
- 4.3Summary and discussion
- 5.Concluding remarks