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Encoding discourse-based meaning: Syntax vs. Prosody. Implications for SLA. Maria Luisa Zubizarreta. USC (in collaboration with Emily Nava) Conference on Mind-Context Divide University of Iowa, April 30 th , 2009. The issue. English has more prosodic plasticity than Spanish.

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encoding discourse based meaning syntax vs prosody implications for sla

Encoding discourse-basedmeaning: Syntax vs. Prosody. Implications for SLA

Maria Luisa Zubizarreta. USC

(in collaboration with Emily Nava)

Conference on Mind-Context Divide

University of Iowa, April 30th, 2009

the issue
The issue
  • English has more prosodic plasticity than Spanish.
  • Spanish has more word order plasticity than English.
  • English uses prosody (i.e. Nuclear Stress) where Spanish uses word order
    • to encode the thetic/categorical distinction
    • to align focus with Nuclear Stress (NS) -or main sentence stress.
general finding
General finding
  • L1 Spanish/L2 English:
    • Moving from syntax to prosody to encode the thetic/categorical divide more challenging than moving from syntax to prosody to align focus with NS (Nava & Zubizarreta in press, in preparation)
  • L1 English/L2 Spanish:
    • Moving from prosody to syntax to encode the thetic/categorical divide less challenging than moving from prosody to syntax to align focus with NS (Hertel 2003, Lozano 2003, Belletti et al. 2008)
a grammatical based explanation
A grammatical-based Explanation.
  • Nuclear Stress algorithm:
    • Important difference between Germanic and Romance
    • Related to deeply-rooted phonotactic differences
    • Spanish  English requires non-trivial restructuring.
  • Anaphoric-deaccenting & NS-Shift
    • Used in English to align focus with NS
    • Not used in Spanish, but easily incorporated into its grammar with no restructuring
the thetic categorical distinction
The thetic/categorical distinction
  • Uncovered by 19th c. philosophers Brentano and Marty. Revived by Kuroda 1972.
  • Categorical statement: topic/comment
    • Names a subject & attributes a property to it via predication -“aboutness relation”.
  • Thetic statement: introduces an event
    • Semantically comparable to nominalizations
  • Distinction in Germanic lgs encoded via Nuclear Stress (Sasse 1987)
    • SV : thetic statement
    • SV: categorical statement
the thetic categorical distinction english
The thetic/categorical distinction. English
  • No truth-conditional differences, but sensitive to lexical semantics and to pragmatics.
  • SV unaccusatives tend to be thetic
    • My friend arrived (100%)
    • A rabbit appeared (100%)
    • A window broke (100%)
  • SV unergatives are variable; relevance of pragmatic “noteworthiness”.
    • A guest sang (57%)
    • A dog is barking (71%)
    • A dog is singing (81%)
the thetic categorical distinction spanish
The thetic/categorical distinction. Spanish
  • English can use NS to mark theticity because Germanic NSR can generate non-sentence final NS.
  • Spanish cannot use NS because Romance NSR generates sentence final NS only.
  • Spanish uses VS order to mark theticity
    • Llego un amigo
    • Hay un perro ladrando vs. There is a dog barking
the nuclear stress algorithm our view
The Nuclear Stress Algorithm. Our view
  • A grammatically encapsulated algorithm.
  • Applies to a metrically interpreted syntactic tree &

assigns Strong vs. Weak to sister nodes

(Liberman 1975).

  • Generates “unmarked” rhythmic patterns –compatible with wide focus.
  • The speaker chooses a particular NS pattern depending on:
    • whether (s)he wants to articulate a sentence as a thetic or as a categorical statement.
      • Choice depends partly on lexical semantics and pragmatic factors
nsr a two layer algorithm
NSR: a two layer algorithm
  • Given two metrical sister nodes A and B:

(i) If A is a head and B is its argument, assign

S(trong) to B (specific-NSR).

Otherwise,

(ii) Assign S(trong)to the rightmost

constituent node in the phrase.

(general NSR).

(Zubizarreta 1998, Zubizarreta & Vergnaud 2005)

  • Specific & general NSR active in Germanic; Only general NSR active in Romance.
metricality of functional nodes germanic vs romance
Metricality of functional nodes. Germanic vs. Romance.
  • The prosodic nature of function words is at the heart of the Romance/Germanic parametrization with respect to the NSR.
  • Because function words in Germanic are systematically unstressed/reduced, functional categories may be analyzed as metrically invisible.
  • Function words in Romance are generally not reduced; therefore functional categories are systematically metrically visible.
germanic patterns
Germanic Patterns
  • NSR also applies to compounds:
    • She’s a [bird-watcher]
    • He went [lion-hunting]
l2 acquisition of germanic nsr hypotheses
L2 Acquisition of Germanic NSR. Hypotheses.
  • Acquisition of Germanic NS patterns involves two aspects: the formal and the functional
    • acquisition of specific-NSR, which requires acquisition of the metrical invisibility of functional categories, in particular Tense.
    • acquisition of NS as a marker of the thetic/categorical distinction.
  • Both formal and functional parts need to be acquired by L2ers in order for Germanic NS patterns to be produced above chance level.
measuring acquisition of metrical invisibility and theticity marking
Measuring Acquisition of metrical invisibility and theticity marking
  • Acquisition of metrical invisibility of functional categories, in particular Tense:
    • measured by production of reduced Auxiliaries.
  • Acquisition of NS as marker of theticity:
    • measured by the extent to which the learner makes a distinction between unaccusatives (which are unambiguously thetic) and unergatives (which are variable).
l2 acquisition of functional aspect of germanic nsr predictions
L2 Acquisition of functional aspect of Germanic NSR. Predictions.

If L2ers have acquired the function of NS in Germanic, they should produce SV patterns in the case of unaccusative verbs to the same extent as native speakers (strong prediction).

If L2ers have acquired the function of NS in Germanic, they should produce significantly more SV than SV patterns in the case of unaccusative verbs, but not in the case of unergative verbs (weak prediction).

Native-like vs. Near-native-like.

l2 acquisition of formal aspect of germanic nsr predictions
L2 Acquisition of formal aspect of Germanic NSR. Predictions.
  • If L2ers are (near) native-like with respect to the production of Germanic NS patterns
    • they must be (near) native-like with respect to the production of Aux reduction
    • but not necessarily vice-versa.
p articipants
Participants.
  • Participants:
    • 34 English Native Controls (ENCs)
    • 46 Spanish L1/English L2 speakers
  • Proficiency groups determined with Cloze test
question answer q a protocol
Question & Answer (Q&A) Protocol
  • Scripted dialogue between experimenter and participant.
  • Experimental test items:
    • wide variety of structures in different information structure contexts
  • Latin-square design, with two Q&A sets
  • Dialogue recorded & analyzed with PitchWorks
coding
Coding
  • Two independent coders
  • Coded for presence/absence of pitch accent and position of Nuclear Pitch Accent (i.e. PA associated with word bearing NS)
  • 22 auxiliaries were identified within experimental test items & coded for presence or absence of vowel reduction (contracted Aux and Aux with stressless, reduced vowel)
relevant data
Relevant data
  • 12 SV unaccusatives
    • come (twice), enter, arrive (twice), appear, escape, vanish, broke, close, open, die.
  • 12 SV unergatives
    • bark, roar, swim (twice), talk, dance, sing (twice), smile, run, cry, sneeze.
  • 4 OV compounds
  • Each Q&A set: 6 SV unaccusatives, 6 SV unergatives, and 2 OV-compounds.
results for cloze based proficiency groups
Results for Cloze-based proficiency groups
  • Effect of L1 in English L2 (esp. for interm.)
  • High Prof: effect of L1 stronger for SV unacc than for OV-compounds.
results for cloze based proficiency groups21
Results for Cloze-based proficiency groups.
  • Pair-wise group comparison for Germanic NS
  • All comparisons are significant (<.05).
results for prosodic based proficiency groups
Results for Prosodic-based proficiency groups
  • L2ers regrouped in terms of above-chance target-production of Germanic NS in unacc SV and OV-compounds (at least 5 out of 8)
    • 9 Lers above chance level of Germanic NS (+NS group)
    • 37 Lers at chance, below chance, or no Germanic NS (-NS group)
    • All Lers in +NS group tested native-like in cloze test (70%-75%).
auxiliary reduction
Auxiliary Reduction
  • All +NS L2ers above 75% of Aux reduction
  • Great variability in the –NS group
summary and conclusion
Summary and Conclusion.
  • All +NS L2ers have more than 75% of Aux reduction.
  • Significant number of –NS Lers have 75% or more of Aux reduction.
  • Acquisition of Aux reduction is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the acquisition of Germanic NS.
  • To produce above chance level of Germanic NS, its function must also be acquired.
the function of germanic ns results
The Function of Germanic NS. Results.
  • +NS L2: native-like only w.r.t. OV-compounds
the function of germanic ns unacc vs unergatives results
The Function of Germanic NS. Unacc vs Unergatives. Results.
  • ENC and +NS L2: significantly more SV than SV for unaccusatives, but not for unergatives.
conclusion
Conclusion.
  • +NS L2 group is native-like with respect to the formal aspect of Germanic NS:
    • as shown by native-like production of Germanic NS in compounds
  • +NS L2 group is near-native like with respect to functional aspect of Germanic NS:
    • as shown by significantly more Germanic NS production in unaccusative than in unergative SV
  • Acquisition of Germanic NSR as marker of theticity by L1 Spanish learners is challenging:
    • only 9 out of 27 cloze-based high proficiency learners acquired the Germanic NSR at (near) native-like level.
encoding theticity via syntax the case of l1 english l2 spanish
Encoding theticity via Syntax. The case of L1 English-L2 Spanish
  • Encoding the thetic/categorical distinction via word order (Suñer 1982):
    • Tendency: VS for unaccusatives;
    • Variable word order for unergatives: SV or VS
  • We currently lack a study that concomitantly examines word order, verb class, prosody, and information structure for L2 Spanish.
  • Hertel 2003 (written production task), Lozano 2006 (written preference task), Nava 2006/2007 (pilot study, oral narration task)
l1 english l2 spanish studies hertel 2003
L1 English-L2 Spanish Studies. Hertel 2003.
  • a contextualized Q&A production task
  • 4 levels of proficiency (24 beginners, 15 low interm, 18 high interm, 24 advanced)
  • 18 Spanish controls (living in US, highly proficient L2 English speakers)
  • Context story (in English) followed by Q (in Spanish). Written response in Spanish.
  • 12 tokens to elicit wide focus (6 unacc & 6 unergatives); 12 tokens to elicit narrow focused subject (6 unacc & 6 unergatives)
  • Responses categorized into SV, VS, and “other”.
results wide focus vs vs sv
Results. Wide focus VS vs SV.
  • Only advanced learners and natives produced significantly more VS with unacc than with unergatives.
l1 english l2 spanish results
L1 English-L2 Spanish. Results
  • Hertel’s study (written production task):
    • Advanced learners’ production of VS shows that they are sensitive to lexical class, which means:
    • Advanced learners encode theticity via word order
  • Lozano’s study (written preference task): same results as Hertel’s.
  • Nava’s pilot study (oral narration): 5 non-high proficiency and 5 high proficiency learners.
    • Advanced learners produced unacc VS order at the same rate as natives and with target-like NS
l2 acquisition of theticity marking syntax vs prosody
L2 Acquisition of theticity marking. Syntax vs. Prosody.
  • Syntax-to-prosody (L1 Spanish/L2 English):
    • very challenging
    • few attain (near) native-like proficiency.
  • Prosody-to-syntax (L1 English/L2 Spanish):
    • more successful
    • advanced learners are native-like
  • L2 instruction includes word order, but not the relation between lexical class and word order (Hertel 2003, Lozano 2006, Montrul 2006)
  • Nature of input:
    • Prosody more subtle & difficult to acquire than word order as a marker of semantico-discursive properties.
    • Not necessarily, as we will see later.
the focus presupposition divide
The focus/presupposition divide
  • English (Pierrehumbert 1980) and Spanish(Sosa 1999):associates the syllable with main lexical stress with a pitch accent (PA) . Nuclear PA= NS-bearing word.
    • In many lgs, including English & Spanish:

Focused part of sentence must contain NPA.

  • NSR: identifies the NS-bearing word for wide focus contexts.
  • When the NS-focus alignment is not obtained via the NSR, how is proper alignment obtained?
    • English uses prosody to ensure alignment
    • Spanish uses word order
english anaphoric deaccenting ns shift
English:Anaphoric-deaccenting & NS-Shift.
  • In English (and other lgs), discourse-based consideration can trigger PA deletion (or significant pitch-reduction) at the grammar-discourse interface.
    • A(naphoric) deaccenting: deaccent previously mentioned information (Ladd 1980, 1996).
    • If deaccented material includes NS-bearing word, NS-Shift applies (shifting NS onto metrical sister)
      • Why are you buying that old stamp?

Because I collect stamps. (75%)

      • Why are these notebooks missing their covers?

Because I’m drawing pictures on the covers. (88%)

english anaphoric deaccenting and ns shift
English: Anaphoric-deaccenting and NS-Shift.
  • Aligning NS with narrow focus via A-deaccenting & NS-Shift:
    • Who was crying?

An actress was crying.

    • Who called?

My friend called.

    • Who broke his leg?

A boy broke his leg.

spanish ns alignment with focus via word order
Spanish: NS alignment with focus via word order.
  • No A-deaccenting & NS-Shift in neither wide nor narrow focus cases.
  • NS-focus alignment via word order
    • Quién llegó? Llegó mi amigo.

who arrived? arrived my friend

    • Quién llamó? LLamóMaría.

Who called? called María

    • Quien se rompio la pierna? (who broke his leg?)

Se rompio la pierna Maria.

broke the leg Maria

.

narrow focus marking in l2 l2 english
Narrow focus marking in L2. L2 English
  • L1 Spanish-L2 English (Nava & Zubizarreta’s study)
    • Based on 4 SV intran (2 unacc and 2 unergatives)
    • L2ers remarkably accurate compared to use of Germanic NS in wide focus contexts.
    • High Prof. are native-like.
    • Only ENC vs. Interm stats signif. (at p<.05 value)
narrow focus marking in l2 l2 spanish
Narrow focus marking in L2. L2 Spanish.

L1 English/L2 Spanish (Hertel 2003)

Beg. & Low Interm: SV order

High Interm & Advanced: increasing use of VS

narrow focus marking in l2 l2 spanish41
Narrow focus marking in L2. L2 Spanish.
  • Natives: significantly different from Beg & Low Intermediate, but not from High Intermediate and Advanced.
  • Advanced learners: significantly different from High Intermiate
  • Natives (high prof L2 English speakers living in US) underproduced VS (attrition)
  • Had Native group been monolingual, different results would have been obtained (significantly different from all L2ers).
narrow focus marking in l2 l2 spanish l2 italian
Narrow focus marking in L2. L2 Spanish & L2 Italian
  • Lozano 2006 (written preference study):
    • Highly proficient L2ers native-like w.r.t VS preference in case of wide focus unacc. and SV for unergatives.
    • Non-native-like in case of narrow focus: SV signif. preferred to VS (both for unacc and unergative)
  • Belletti et al. 2008 (oral task study on L1 English/L2 Italian). L2ers were
    • native-like wrt to production of wide focus VS unacc
    • non-native-like in case of narrow focus subject
      • High production of SV (NS on Subject)
summary and implications
Summary and Implications.

English uses prosody where Spanish uses word order for:

Thetic-marking

Alignment of focus with NS

Thetic-marking:

L1 Spanish/L2 English:

Syntax  Prosody: very challenging (only 9 out of 27 cloze-based High Prof are near-native).

L1 English/L2 Spanish:

Prosody  Syntax: successful (High proficiency as a group is native-like)

summary and implications44
Summary and Implications.
  • Alignment of focus with NS:
    • L1 Spanish/L2 English:
      • Syntax  Prosody: successful (High Prof. as a group is native-like)
    • L1 English/L2 Spanish (cf. Lozano 2006)
      • Prosody  Syntax: unsuccessful (High Prof. as a group is non-native-like)
  • Prosody vs. Syntax: nature of input?
    • prosody is subtle and vulnerable, while word order is robust
    • Insufficient explanation.
a deaccenting ns shift wide focus contexts
A-deaccenting & NS-Shift. Wide focus contexts

A-deaccenting & NS-Shift is relatively easy to

acquire, not only in narrow focus cases, but also in wide-focus cases:

Why are you buying that old stamp? Because I collect stamps.

Why are these notebooks missing their covers?

Because I’m drawing pictures on the covers

Same group of L1Spanish/L2 English:

Only 9 out of 27 High Prof. used Germanic NS to mark theticity above chance level.

16 out of 27 High Prof. learners and 3 Interm produced patterns involving “A-deaccenting & NS-Shift” in wide focus contexts above chance level (Nava & Zubizarreta in press).

grammatical based explanation
Grammatical-based explanation
  • To produce Germanic NS patterns, L1Spanish/L2 English learners requires non-trivial restructuring of native NSR.
  • To align NS with focus, L1 Spanish/L2 English learners must acquire A-deaccenting & NS-shift.
  • Acquisition of A-deaccenting & NS-shift:
    • Spanish  English: requires no restructuring of L1 algorithm. Therefore, relatively easy to acquire.
    • English  Spanish: For the same reason, difficult to weed out. Therefore, recalcitrant property of L2 speech.
conclusion47
Conclusion.
  • Two ways of marking discourse-based meanings: prosody vs. syntax.
  • Marking of discourse-based meaning distinctions are not equally difficult to acquire.
  • Relative success of L2 acquisition depends (at least partially) on the grammatical properties of the languages in contact.
    • This explanation assumes that L2ers acquire a grammatical system (possibly “incomplete” or “divergent”), but not isolated patterns.
acknowledgements
Acknowledgements.
  • NSF grant BCS #0444088
  • USC Provost Office and USC Grant “Advancing Scholarship in the Humanities and Social Sciences”.
  • Our Undergraduate RAs Greg Madan and Christopher van Booven (funded by the USC Undergraduate Research Associates Grant)
  • Our colleague Tania Ionin.
references
References.
  • Belletti, A., E. Bennati & A. Sorace. 2007. Theoretical and Developmental Issues in the Syntax of Subjects: Evidence from Near-native Italian, Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 25, 657- 689.
  • Contreras, H. 1976. A theory of word order with special reference to Spanish. Amsterdam: North-Holland.
  • Cruttenden, A. 1997. Intonation, Cambridge University Press.
  • Gussenhoven, C. 1984. On the grammar and semantics of sentence accents. Dordrecht, Foris.
  • Hertel, T, 2003. Lexical and discourse factors in the second language acquisition of Spanish word order, Second Language Research 14, 273-304.
  • Ladd, R. 1996. Intonational Phonology. Indiana University Press, Bloomington.
  • Lozano, C. 2006. Focus and Split Intransitivity: The acquisition of word order alternations in Non-native Spanish, Second Language Reserach 22, 145-187.
  • Manzini, M.R. & K. Wexler 1987. Parameters, Binding Theory, and Leanability, Linguistic Inquiry 18, 413-444.
  • Montrul, S. 2005. On knowledge and development of unaccusativity in Spanish L2 acquisition, Linguistics 43, 1153–1190.
  • Nava, E. 2006. Prosody and Focus Alignment in L2 Speech. Unpublished ms. University of Southern California, presented at LSRL 2007.
  • Nava, E. 2007. Managing Flexible Resources: L2 Acquisition of Word Order and Phrasal Prominence in Spanish. Paper presented at Going Romance, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands 2007.
  • Nava, E. & Zubizarreta, ML. In press a. Deconstructing the Nuclear Stress Algorithm: Evidence from Second Language Speech. In N. Erteschik-Shir & L. Rochman, eds, The Sound Patterns of Syntax, Oxford University Press.
  • ______In press b. Order of L2 Acquisition of Prosodic Prominence Patterns: Evidence from L1Spanish/L2 English Speech. In Proceedings of Galana 3. Somerville, Ma: Cascadilla Press.
references cont
References (cont.)
  • Neeleman and Weerman 1997. L1 and L2 Word Order Acquisition 6, 125-179.
  • Pierrehumbert, J. 1980. The phonology and phonetics of English Intonation. PhD doctoral dissertation, Department of Linguistics, MIT, Cambridge, Ma.
  • Samek-Lodovici, V. 2005. Prosody-Syntax Interaction in the Expression of Focus. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 23:687-755.
  • Sasse, H.J. 1987. The thetic-categorical distinction revisited. Linguistics 25, 511-580.
  • Selkirk, E. 1984. Phonology and Syntax: The relation between sound and Structure, MIT Press.
  • Slabakova, R. 2006. Learnability in the second language acquisition of semantics: a bidirectional study of a semantic parameter. Second Language Research 22, 498-523.
  • Sorace, A. 1993. Incomplete vs. divergent respresentations of unaccusativity in non- native grammars of Italian. Second Language Research 9, 22-47.
  • Sorace, A. 1999. Initial states, end states, and residual optionality in L2 acquisition. In Greenhill, A., Litttlefield, H. and Tano, C. eds, Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press, 666-674.
  • Sorace, A. 2000. Syntactic Optionality in non-native grammars. Second Language Reseach 16, 193-102.
  • Sorace, A. 2004. Native language attrition and developmental instability at the syntax-discourse interface: data, interpretations and methods. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 7, 143-45.
  • Sosa, J.M. 1999. La entoncaion del español. Madrid: Cátedra.
  • Schwartz, B. 1998. “The Second Language Instinct”, Lingua 106: 133-160.
  • Vallduví, E. 1995, Structureal properties of information packageing in Catalan. In K. Kiss, ed., Discourse configurational languages. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Zubizarreta, ML and JR. Vergnaud. 2005. Phrasal Stress, Focus, and Syntax. In M.Everaert and H. van Riemsdijk, eds., The Syntax Companion. Cambridge: Blackwell.
  • Zubizarreta, ML. 1998. Focus, Prosody, and Word Order, Cambridge: MIT Press.