Le Traitement Prototypique
Définition et Implications
This paper presents results from a study of the language production of native speakers and advanced learners. Four groups often speakers (native French, native Italian, Italian learners of French, French learners of Italian) performed a picture description task, and a comparison was made between the information contained in the productions of natives vs. learners, and the linguistic means used to convey this information.
It was found that the processing of identical chunks of information ranged along a continuum from the analytic to the synthetic, from learners to natives, respectively. Two examples of this differential processing are discussed in detail: firstly, the division of the discourse into main structure and side structure, and secondly, the locating of entities in the picture. The former distinction emerges much more clearly in learner than in native production, and for the latter function, learners resort more frequently than native speakers to temporal adverbs such as puis/più and particles such as aussi/anche, in addition to purely spatial means.
Overall, it is shown that learners have a more neutral way of processing the task (Von Strutterheim's "prototypische Bearbeitung"), and it is argued in conclusion that it is precisely this charactristic of learner production which allows insights into both the structure of (descriptive) discourse and the language production process.