Form-Meaning Connections in Second Language Acquisitions

Form-Meaning Connections in Second Language Acquisitions

Form-Meaning Connections in Second Language Acquisitions

Form-Meaning Connections in Second Language Acquisitions

Synopsis

Form-Meaning Connections in Second Language Acquisition is an interdisciplinary and timely edited book of essays and empirical studies, most of which are based on the papers presented at the Form and Meaning Conference held in Chicago in 2002. The goal of the conference and now of the book is to present linguistic and cognitive approaches to second language acquisition, attempting to integrate external and internal issues in interlanguage development, while outlining directions for future research. The editors address questions, such as: What is the nature and sequence of the form-meaning mapping process? How are these connections made? How are these connections used to construct grammars and lexicons? And, how can conditions and external factors be manipulated to improve the chances of making these form-meaning connections? Contributors to this volume include such second language acquisition scholars as Susan Gass, Nick Ellis, Kathleen Bardovi-Harlig, Catherine Doughty, and Diane Larsen-Freeman.They address these form-meaning issues from a variety of settings and from multiple perspectives. Researchers and graduate students in applied linguistics, cognitive psychology, linguistics, and language pedagogy will find this volume to be an important resource.

Excerpt

Second language tense-aspect systems have proven a fruitful area of study of form-meaning associations. Some studies have demonstrated that second language learners show a mastery of form that exceeds their mastery of targetlanguage form-meaning associations (Bardovi-Harlig, 1992a; Dietrich, Klein, & Noyau, 1995). Other studies have focused on the temporal semantics of interlanguage, either beginning with meaning and investigating what forms learners use to express it (the meaning-oriented approach) or beginning with form and investigating what meanings the forms take on as interlanguage develops (the form-oriented approach; see Shirai, chap. 5 in this vol.). Both approaches have resulted in a growing understanding of form-meaning associations in interlanguage and how they develop and change with continued exposure to the second language. This chapter uses meaning-oriented approach to investigate expressions of futurity.

The future, like the past (which is well-researched in second language acquisition), is displaced temporally from the here and now. Semantically, the reference to “not here, not now” comes about when speech time is displaced from event time. in the past, the time of speech follows the time of the event, or E -> S (Reichenbach, 1947). the future can be represented in Reichenbachian terms as speech time preceding event time, or S -> E. However, temporality is only one of the concepts that makes up the future. Crosslinguistic research on tense-aspect systems agrees that, unlike the purely temporal relationships of the past and the present, the future also encompasses modality. Modality is often concerned with the speaker's assumptions or assessment of possibilities, and in most cases, it indicates the speaker's confidence (or lack of confidence) in the truth of the proposition expressed; this is epistemic modality (Coates, 1983, 1987; Lyons, 1977; Palmer, 1986; Perkins, 1983). Modality is also concerned with obligation and necessity; this is deontic modality. Both are related to the expression of the future. the modal reading of the future may be due in part to that fact that, as Dahl (1985) noted, “We cannot perceive the future directly or ‘remember’ it” (p. 103), so that each invocation of the future is also an invocation of modality that includes possibility/probability, intention, and desire or volition (Bybee, 1985). As Dahl (1985) observed,

Normally, when we talk about the future, we are either talking about someone's plans, intentions or obligations, or we are making a prediction or extrapolation from the present state of the world. As a direct consequence, a sentence which refers to the future will almost always differ also modally from a . . .

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