10 research outputs found

    Towards a pragmatics of non-fictional narrative truth: Gricean and relevance-theoretic perspectives

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    From a linguistic perspective, ‘truth’ is undoubtedly a pragmatic notion, as the truth of an utterance is not determined solely by its linguistic meaning, but is dependent upon the context in which it is uttered. Although pragmaticists have devoted some theoretical attention to factual truth, truth that is not established through comparison with an observable external reality remains comparatively under-theorised. This paper focuses on a particular kind of truth that falls within this category, namely non-fictional narrative truth. “Narrative truth” is defined as a judgement of verisimilitude accorded to the meaning of a narrative as a whole. This narrative meaning is neither rationally nor empirically verifiable, but rather arrived at by a hermeneutic process. The paper argues that certain criteria previously identified as influencing hearers’ perceptions of testimony also contribute to the creation of an impression of narrative truth. It then examines the position of these criteria within Gricean and relevance-theoretic pragmatic accounts of interpretation. Using as an illustrative example a transcription of a testimony presented to South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the paper considers whether behaviour deemed ‘cooperative’ in typical conversational interaction is sufficient to yield an impression of a narrative’s truth in this particular domain. A principal finding is that adherence to the standard Gricean ‘recipe’ for cooperative conversational behaviour, with its prioritisation of truthfulness, fails to yield an impression of narrative truth. Relevance theory, on the other hand, which places equal emphasis on the form and content of utterances, more easily explains why the truth of certain kinds of narratives may be questioned. However, the criterion of relevance is also found to raise some complications, as what counts as ‘relevant’ differs across speakers and cultures. The paper concludes with a contemplation of the ethical issues raised when certain kinds of narrative are deemed ‘untruthful’ and remain figuratively unheard.Keywords: narrative, truth, Grice, relevance theory, TR

    Syntactic processing in English–Afrikaans bilinguals

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    Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2020.ENGLISH ABSTRACT: A fundamental question in the study of human language is why, compared to the acquisition of a first language (L1), second language (L2) acquisition should have such widely varying outcomes. Relatedly, there is a question regarding the upper limits on L2 acquisition, namely whether it is possible for learners who have not acquired a language from birth to perform identically to native speakers of that language. Experimental psycholinguistic techniques offer insight into the moment-by-moment processes involved in language comprehension and production, and in recent years have increasingly been employed to investigate L2 and bilingual processing, both in their own right and in relation to L1 processing. In this dissertation, such techniques are employed to investigate L2 English syntactic processing among early L2 acquirers (L1 Afrikaans) who receive extensive naturalistic exposure to the L2 and have attained high proficiency therein. Second language populations with this combination of features, each of which has been shown to affect processing outcomes, are understudied in the literature, as are highly linguistically diverse settings such as South Africa. There is thus little information available regarding the consequences of this particular constellation of individual- and environmental-level characteristics on ultimate levels of L2 attainment. The studies presented in the dissertation focus on three syntactic phenomena that have been shown to be processed in a non-nativelike fashion by L2 speakers. These are temporarily ambiguous or so-called garden-path sentences, pronouns, and long-distance wh-dependencies. The techniques of self-paced reading and eye-tracking-while-reading were utilized to obtain real-time processing data. These data were supplemented by measures of L2 proficiency and language background. First-language speakers of South African English were employed as a comparison group. The findings show L1–L2 convergence for a subset of the L2 participants – those with a relatively earlier age of L2 acquisition – in the garden-path sentence processing experiment. In the pronoun resolution experiment, evidence of cross-linguistic influence at the verb level is observed, which subsequently affects processing at the sentence level. Finally, in the processing of long-distance wh-dependencies, the strategies employed by the L1 and L2 speakers differ, with awareness of an abstract syntactic cue being evident in the L1 but not the L2 speakers. The results provide insight into the implications of the South African language acquisition and use contexts for L2 development. A more general consideration of these implications as they relate to other multilingual settings contributes to our knowledge of L2 attainment in linguistically heterogeneous environments.AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: 'n Fundamentele vraag in die bestudering van menslike taal is waarom die verwerwing van 'n tweede taal (T2), in vergeleke met die verwerwing van 'n eerste taal (T1), sulke wyd uiteenlopende uitkomste het. Daar is ook 'n verwante vraag rakende die boonste perke van T2-verwerwing, naamlik of dit moontlik is vir leerders om identies met moedertaalsprekers te presteer as hulle nie die taal vanaf geboorte verwerf het nie. Eksperimentele psigolinguistiese tegnieke bied insig in die oomblik-tot-oomblik prosesse wat by taalbegrip en -produksie betrokke is, en sulke tegnieke word toenemend gebruik om T2- en tweetalige verwerking, sowel in eie reg as in verband met T1-verwerking, te ondersoek. In hierdie proefskrif word sulke tegnieke gebruik om T2 Engelse sintaktiese verwerking onder vroeë T2-verwerwers (T1 Afrikaans) wat uitgebreide naturalistiese blootstelling aan die T2 het en wat 'n hoë vaardigheid in die T2 behaal het te ondersoek. In die bestaande literatuur is T2 populasies met hierdie kombinasie van eienskappe, wat individueel bewese invloed op verwerkingsuitkomste het, onderbestudeer. Verder is uiters linguisties-diverse omgewings soos Suid-Afrika ook onderbestudeer. Daar is dus min inligting rakende die gevolge van hierdie spesifieke konfigurasie van individuele- en omgewingseienskappe op uiteindelike vlakke van T2-bereiking. Die studies wat in die proefskrif voorgelê word, fokus op drie sintaktiese verskynsels wat gedemonstreer is om deur T2 sprekers op 'n nie-moedertaalagtige wyse verwerk te word. Hierdie verskynsels sluit in: tydelik-dubbelsinnige of sogenaamde “garden-path”-sinne, voornaamwoorde en langafstand wh-afhanklikhede. Die tegnieke van eie-tempo lees en oognaspeuring-tydens-lees is gebruik om reële-tyd verwerkingsdata te bekom. Hierdie data is aangevul deur maatstawwe van T2-vaardigheid en taalagtergrond. Eerstetaalsprekers van Suid-Afrikaanse Engels is as kontrole groep gebruik. In die eksperiment oor die verwerking van tydelik-dubbelsinnige sinne, is daar bevind dat van die T2-deelnemers – diegene met 'n betreklik vroeëre ouderdom van T2-aanleer – T1–T2 konvergensie vertoon. In die voornaamwoord-resolusie eksperiment is bewyse van kruis-linguistiese invloed op die werkwoordvlak, wat verdere verwerking op sinsvlak beïnvloed, waargeneem. Laastens verskil die strategieë wat deur die T1- en T2-sprekers aangewend word in die verwerking van langafstand wh-afhanklikhede, met T1-sprekers wat, anders as T2-sprekers, bewus is van 'n abstrakte sintaktiese leidraad. Die resultate bied insig in die implikasies van die Suid-Afrikaanse taalverwerwing- en gebruikskontekste vir T2-ontwikkeling. 'n Algemene oorweging van hierdie implikasies, soos hulle verband hou met ander meertalige instellings, dra by tot ons kennis van T2-bereiking in linguisties heterogene omgewings.Doctora

    Movement in the Afrikaans left periphery : a view from anti-locality

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    CITATION: Berghoff, R. 2017. Movement in the Afrikaans left periphery : a view from anti-locality. Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics, 48:35-50, doi:10.5774/48-0-279.The original publication is available at http://spil.journals.ac.zaIt has been convincingly argued that the so-called “left periphery” of the sentence makes available multiple positions which host topicalised and focalised phrases, among other elements. Projections in the C-domain have been shown to have a fixed ordering, the violation of which results in ungrammaticality. Rizzi (1997) provides a template that specifies this ordering. Botha and Oosthuizen (2009) examine this template’s ability to account for ordering phenomena in the Afrikaans left periphery and make certain necessary adjustments to Rizzi’s template to account for their data. This short paper takes Botha and Oosthuizen’s observations regarding the (im)possibility of a certain ordering in the Afrikaans CP as a case in point. Broadly put, the paper’s premise is that although the template provided for the Afrikaans CP may be descriptively adequate, in that it can accommodate and predict possible orderings, it falls short in that it does not account for why such a template should exist. That is, the template itself does not explain why certain orderings are permissible and others are not. It is the paper’s modest aim to test the ability of one theoretical perspective, namely Grohmann’s (2003) theory of anti-locality, to account for the illegality of a particular ordering in the Afrikaans CP. Antilocality’s ban on ‘too local’ movement is shown to predict the illicitness of this ordering. Due to the paper’s limited scope, the analysis is not extended to other constructions. Its aim is toprompt further efforts to account for the observed ordering in the CP domain, and it offers the theory of anti-locality as a possible starting point for these efforts.http://spil.journals.ac.za/pub/article/view/279Publisher’s versio

    Movement in the Afrikaans left periphery: A view from anti-locality

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    It has been convincingly argued that the so-called “left periphery” of the sentence makes available multiple positions which host topicalised and focalised phrases, among other elements. Projections in the C-domain have been shown to have a fixed ordering, the violation of which results in ungrammaticality. Rizzi (1997) provides a template that specifies this ordering. Botha and Oosthuizen (2009) examine this template’s ability to account for ordering phenomena in the Afrikaans left periphery and make certain necessary adjustments to Rizzi’s template to account for their data. This short paper takes Botha and Oosthuizen’s observations regarding the (im)possibility of a certain ordering in the Afrikaans CP as a case in point. Broadly put, the paper’s premise is that although the template provided for the Afrikaans CP may be descriptively adequate, in that it can accommodate and predict possible orderings, it falls short in that it does not account for why such a template should exist. That is, the template itself does not explain why certain orderings are permissible and others are not. It is the paper’s modest aim to test the ability of one theoretical perspective, namely Grohmann’s (2003) theory of anti-locality, to account for the illegality of a particular ordering in the Afrikaans CP. Anti-locality’s ban on ‘too local’ movement is shown to predict the illicitness of this ordering. Due to the paper’s limited scope, the analysis is not extended to other constructions. Its aim is to prompt further efforts to account for the observed ordering in the CP domain, and it offers the theory of anti-locality as a possible starting point for these efforts.Keywords: Afrikaans, left periphery, anti-localit

    Dimensions of space in sociolinguistics

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    Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Within the social sciences and humanities, adequate definitions and understandings of the concept ‘space’ have been debated for some time. However, until recently, this debate been neglected within linguistics, although it is generally acknowledged that understandings of space within sociolinguistic research specifically have not remained uniform over time. The research presented in this study focuses on the varying conceptions of ‘space’ in the development of variationist sociolinguistics. It specifically seeks to address the lack of a coherent account of the influence that the various dominant conceptualizations of ‘space’ have had on research design throughout the history of the field. Previous work on this topic, which until recently has been relatively scarce, has pointed out some fluctuations in the understanding of space that has been employed within sociolinguistics. Still, these changes over time have not yet been investigated in a systematic and chronological manner. Additionally, previous investigations of the concept ‘space’ in sociolinguistics did not situate themselves within the broader spatial rethinking that has occurred in the social sciences, and thus tend to employ the relevant spatial terminology in isolated and unstandardized ways. The present study examines the conceptualization of ‘space’ in variationist sociolinguistics in a systematic and chronological manner, and situates changes in the understanding of this concept within the so-called “spatial turn” that occurred in the social sciences in the late 1970s/early 1980s. By examining the influential literature within four different variationist sociolinguistic paradigms and identifying the changes in dominant spatial understandings that have occurred over time, the impact of each dominant spatial conception on research design in variationist sociolinguistics is explicated. Ultimately, the study aims to clarify a topic that has previously been treated in largely incomplete and unsystematic ways. By presenting a partial chronicle of the history of ‘space’ in variationist sociolinguistics, the study will moreover serve as a basis for those working in the field to reflect on the directions this relatively young discipline has taken.AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Binne die sosiale en geesteswetenskappe is toereikende definisies en begrip van die konsep ‘ruimte’ al vir ’n geruime tyd gedebatteer. Hierdie debat is tot onlangs binne die taalwetenskap afgeskeep, alhoewel dit algemeen erken word dat die begrip van ruimte binne spesifiek sosiolinguistiese navorsing met verloop van tyd verander het. Die navorsing wat in hierdie studie aangebied word, fokus op veranderinge in die konseptualisering van ruimte in die ontwikkeling van variasionistiese sosiolinguistiek. Daar word spesifiek aandag gegee aan die gebrek aan ʼn samehangende beskrywing van die invloed wat verskillende dominante begrippe van ‘ruimte’ gehad het op navorsingsontwerp in die veld se geskiedenis. Vorige werk wat oor dié onderwerp handel, en wat tot onlangs relatief skaars was, het daarop gewys dat daar wel veranderinge was in die manier waarop die begrip ‘ruimte’ binne die sosiolinguistiek gebruik is, maar hierdie veranderinge is nog nie op ʼn sistematiese en chronologiese manier ondersoek nie. Vorige studies van dié onderwerp is ook nie binne die breër ruimte-debat in die sosiale wetenskappe aangebied nie. Daar is dus die geneigheid om die relevante ruimte-terminologie op geïsoleerde en nie-gestandaardiseerde maniere te gebruik. Die huidige studie ondersoek die konsep ‘ruimte’ binne variasionistiese sosiolinguistiek op ʼn sistematiese en chronologiese manier, en plaas veranderinge in die begrip van ruimte in die sosiolinguistiek binne die konteks van die sogenaamde “spatial turn” wat in die laat-1970’s/vroeë-1980’s binne die sosiale wetenskappe plaasgevind het. Deur ʼn ondersoek van invloedryke literatuur binne vier verskillende variasionisties-sosiolinguistiese raamwerke, en die identifisering van die veranderinge in die konseptualisering van dominante ruimte-begrippe wat met verloop van tyd plaasgevind het, word die impak van elke dominante ruimte-begrip op navorsingsontwerp in variasionistiese sosiolinguistiek duidelik gemaak. Die uiteindelike oogmerk van die studie is om duidelikheid te verskaf oor ʼn onderwerp wat voorheen grootliks onvolledig en onsistematies aangespreek is. Deur ’n gedeeltelike kroniek van die geskiedenis van ‘ruimte’ in variationistiese sosiolinguistiek te bied, dien die studie voorts as ’n basis vanwaar taalwetenskaplikes kan besin oor die rigtings waarin hierdie relatief jong dissipline ontwikkel het

    OSA Processing in Early L2 Acquirers

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    - Self-paced reading data - C-test data - Background data (LEAP-Q

    Towards a pragmatics of non-fictional narrative truth : gricean and relevance-theoretic perspectives

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    CITATION: Berghoff, R. & Huddlestone, K. 2016. Towards a pragmatics of non-fictional narrative truth : gricean and relevance-theoretic perspectives. Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics Plus, 49:129-144, doi:10.5842/49-0-670.The original publication is available at http://spilplus.journals.ac.zaFrom a linguistic perspective, ‘truth’ is undoubtedly a pragmatic notion, as the truth of an utterance is not determined solely by its linguistic meaning, but is dependent upon the context in which it is uttered. Although pragmaticists have devoted some theoretical attention to factual truth, truth that is not established through comparison with an observable external reality remains comparatively under-theorised. This paper focuses on a particular kind of truth that falls within this category, namely non-fictional narrative truth. “Narrative truth” is defined as a judgement of verisimilitude accorded to the meaning of a narrative as a whole. This narrative meaning is neither rationally nor empirically verifiable, but rather arrived at by a hermeneutic process. The paper argues that certain criteria previously identified as influencing hearers’ perceptions of testimony also contribute to the creation of an impression of narrative truth. It then examines the position of these criteria within Gricean and relevance-theoretic pragmatic accounts of interpretation. Using as an illustrative example a transcription of a testimony presented to South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the paper considers whether behaviour deemed ‘cooperative’ in typical conversational interaction is sufficient to yield an impression of a narrative’s truth in this particular domain. A principal finding is that adherence to the standard Gricean ‘recipe’ for cooperative conversational behaviour, with its prioritisation of truthfulness, fails to yield an impression of narrative truth. Relevance theory, on the other hand, which places equal emphasis on the form and content of utterances, more easily explains why the truth of certain kinds of narratives may be questioned. However, the criterion of relevance is also found to raise some complications, as what counts as ‘relevant’ differs across speakers and cultures. The paper concludes with a contemplation of the ethical issues raised when certain kinds of narrative are deemed ‘untruthful’ and remain figuratively unheard.http://spilplus.journals.ac.za/pub/article/view/670Publisher’s versio

    Structural priming of code-switches in non-shared-word-order utterances: The effect of lexical repetition

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    Code-switching is generally dispreferred at points of non-shared word order across a bilingual’s two languages. In priming studies, this dispreference persists even following exposure to a code-switched non-shared-word-order utterance. The present study delves deeper into the scope of code-switching priming by investigating whether lexical repetition across target and prime, a factor known to boost structural priming, can increase code-switching at points of word order divergence. Afrikaans–English bilinguals (n=46) heard prime sentences in which word order, lexical repetition, and switch position were manipulated and subsequently produced code-switched picture descriptions. The results show that lexical repetition boosts the priming of code-switching in a non-shared word order. The findings demonstrate that code-switching in production is affected by a dynamic interplay between factors both language-internal (i.e., word order) and language-external (i.e., priming, and specifically lexical repetition)

    Degree modification across categories in Afrikaans

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    The paper presents an analysis of the Afrikaans degree modifier baie ‘very/much/many’. Baie appears to be a single lexical item with a wide distribution in terms of the categories of gradable predicate with which it can combine. However, the paper shows that two syntactically distinct instances of baie should be distinguished. These instances of baie portion out the modification of different grammatical categories between them: one, a head, exclusively modifies gradable adjectives, and the other, an adjunct, modifies the remaining categories of gradable predicate

    Degree modification across categories in Afrikaans

    No full text
    The paper presents an analysis of the Afrikaans degree modifier baie ‘very/much/many’. Baie appears to be a single lexical item with a wide distribution in terms of the categories of gradable predicate with which it can combine. However, the paper shows that two syntactically distinct instances of baie should be distinguished. These instances of baie portion out the modification of different grammatical categories between them: one, a head, exclusively modifies gradable adjectives, and the other, an adjunct, modifies the remaining categories of gradable predicate
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