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Language typology, task complexity and the development of L2 lexicalization patterns for describing motion events

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The present paper focuses on the acquisition of L2 constructions for the expression of motion from a typological (Cadierno, 2008; Talmy, 1985, 1991, 2000) and a psycholinguistic perspective with implications for pedagogy (Robinson, 2003a, 2007; Robinson & Gilabert, 2007a, 2007b). Specifically, we report the results of a cross-linguistic study which examined the extent to which the manipulation of pedagogic tasks in terms of cognitive complexity can facilitate the development of target-like lexicalization patterns and appropriate L2 ways of thinking-for-speaking for the expression of motion by adult L2 learners with typologically similar and typologically different L1s and L2s, i.e., Danish vs. Japanese L1 learners of English. The results of the study show that level of L2 proficiency, assessed using a cloze test, predicts more target-like reference to L2 motion across both L1 groups. Typological similarity between the L1 (Danish) and L2 (English) results in greater use of motion constructions incorporating mention of ground of motion compared to their use by Japanese L1 speakers. More cognitively complex tasks lead to production of more target-like lexicalization patterns, but also only for speakers of the typologically similar L1, Danish.
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Keywords: language typology; lexicalization patterns; motion events; task complexity; usage-based learning

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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