Referent introductions in Chinese L2 narratives: selection of information and grammatical encoding


主讲人:Arnaud Arslangul 法国国立东方语言文化学院副教授





During the production of a narrative, the speaker must juggle many tasks such as the selection and linearization of information, the attribution of a thematic structure, a status of accessibility to the referents and an information structure to the message. In this context, we are interested in how the new animate (protagonist) and inanimate (entity) referents are introduced into Chinese L2 narratives. The analysis focuses on the phrastic and discursive level. The procedure used consists of the analysis of an oral corpus collected from French and Chinese L1 speakers, as well as learners of Chinese as a second language (low and intermediate levels). The stimulus used is a comic strip composed of ten plates of four drawings, including eight target items and two distractors. It is a quest narrative during which the main character meets other protagonists whose appearances are unexpected. This condition may, according to Bailard (1981), leads to the production of verb-subject inversion. This study is based on Levelt’s (1989) language production model and the Quaestio’s discourse analysis model (Klein & von Stutterheim 1991). The research questions are: What are the linguistic means used to introduce a new referent in a narrative in French and Chinese? Is there an influence of the L1 on the story telling in L2? The results for the introduction of entities show that (a) French native speakers introduce the referent in the main-structure of the discourse, as the postverbal object of the clause (svO), in locative or stimulus role (ex. 1 and 2); whereas (b) Chinese native speakers introduce the referent in the side-structure of the discourse, as the postverbal object of the clause (svO), in theme role (ex. 3); (c) low and intermediate learners do as French native speakers, but mostly in stimulus role (ex. 4). The results for the introduction of protagonists show that (a) French native speakers introduce them as preverbal subject of the canonical predicative structure “Sv” (ex. 5); (b) Chinese native speakers extensively use the verb-subject inversion “vS” structure (ex. 6); (c) low learners use the same “Sv” structure as their L1 (ex. 7); (d) intermediate learners use less canonical “Sv” structure and more presentational structure “有+NP+VP” (ex. 8). The conclusion of the analysis is that the learners encounter difficulties at two levels: conceptualization and formulation of the message, in Levelt’s (1989) terminology. The conceptual planning of the message includes the repartition of the information between main-structure and side-structure, and the distribution of the thematic roles to the referents of the message. The learners differ from the Chinese native speakers on those two points. In respect to the grammatical encoding of the message and more precisely the local marking of newness of the referents (“一个+N”) learners do not differ from the Chinese native speakers. However, there is a difference between those two groups for the global marking of newness, which is the position of the referent in relation to the verb. Chinese speakers strongly tend to have identifiable referent in the preverbal position and unidentifiable referent in the postverbal position, while the learners have not established a relation between word order and the marking of newness of a referent. 2/2 (1) Il s’approche d’ une bouche d’égout. (French L1) 3SG approach of a manhole ‘He gets closer to a manhole.’ [main-structure, svO, locative] (2) Il voit un trou de souris. (French L1) 3SG see a mouse hole ‘He sees a mouse hole.’ [main-structure, svO, stimulus] (3) 树上 有 个 洞。 (Chinese L1) [side-structure, svO, theme] (4) 小狗 看到 一 个 垃圾桶。 (L2 Low) [main-structure, svO, stimulus] (5) Un ouvrier sort de la bouche d’égout. (French L1) a worker exit of the manhole ‘A worker comes out of the manhole.’ [main-structure, Sv, agent] (6) 从 洞里 钻出 一 只 松鼠。 (Chinese L1) [main-structure, vS, agent] (7) 一 个 工人 出来。 (L2 Low) [main-structure, Sv, agent] (8) 突然 有 一 个 松鼠 出来。 (L2 Int) [main-structure, 有+NP+VP, agent]