Publication details [#56917]

Haan, Pieter de, Bettelou Los and Lieke Verheijen. 2013. Information Structure: The final hurdle?: The development of syntactic structures in (very) advanced Dutch EFL writing. Dutch Journal of Applied Linguistics 2 (1) : 92–107.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


Although texts produced by (very) advanced Dutch learners of English as a foreign language (EFL) may be perfectly grammatical, they often feel distinctly non-native. Dutch, as a verb-second language, makes separate positions available for discourse linking and aboutness-topics. Although the English sentences of these advanced learners conform to the subject-verb-object order of English, the pre-subject adverbial position in English is made to perform the information-structural function of the verb-second discourse-linking position, producing texts that are perceived as non-native, without being ungrammatical. A side-effect of this L1 interference is the underuse of special focusing constructions in English, like the stressed-focus it-cleft. This paper investigates the progress of Dutch writers towards a more native-like use of the pre-subject position and the it-cleft in a longitudinal corpus of 137 writings of Dutch university students of English. It is concluded that information-structural differences present the final hurdle for advanced Dutch EFL writers.