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Auteur: Tokiko OKUMA

L2A of discourse and semantic functions of pronouns

Abstract/Résumé: This study investigates the applicability of the Interface Hypothesis (henceforth IH, Tsimpli & Sorace 2006) through the acquisition of two different domains of knowledge of pronouns by L1 English speakers of L2 Japanese. The IH suggests that external interfaces, such as discourse-syntax interface, are persistently problematic for L2ers because of their limited processing resources, while other domains of knowledge are not problematic. This study focuses on two functions of Japanese pronouns. The first function is related to discourse. In Romance pro drop languages, null pronouns denote topic continuity, while overt pronouns denote topic change (Belletti, Bennati & Sorace 2007). In the topic drop language, Japanese, null pronouns express topic continuity, while overt pronouns do not (though the contrast is not as clear as that in Italian [Okuma 2011]). The second function is related to semantics/syntax. Japanese overt pronouns cannot be bound by a quantificational antecedent, regardless of their syntactic positions (Saito & Hoji 1983, Montalbetti 1984, Elbourne 2005), due to their nature as N-pronouns (Noguchi 1997). English does not allow null pronouns; accordingly, English pronouns do not have these two functions. The experiment will be conducted on advanced L1 English speakers of Japanese and native Japanese speakers and their knowledge of pronouns will be compared. The experiment will consist of the picture verification task adapted from Okuma (2011) and the interpretation task adapted from Kanno (1997). If the L2ers are less accurate with the discourse function than the semantics/syntax function, the IH will besupported. Alternatively, if L2ers are accurate with the two functions to the same extent, the IH will be challenged, which supports the view that the interfaces should not be treated holistically (Yuan 2010, White 2011).