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Extracting learner-specific pragmalinguistic features: a study of requestive speech acts produced by Japanese low-proficiency English learners

Abstract

This study shows how learner corpora can be applied to the investigation of interlanguage pragmatics by examining the requests produced by Japanese English learners at the A1 and A2 levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) from the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology Japanese Learner English (NICT JLE) Corpus. Requestive forms in shopping role plays were manually extracted by modifying the Cross-Cultural Speech Act Realization Project (CCSARP) coding scheme (Blum-Kulka et al. in Cross-cultural pragmatics: requests and apologies. Ablex, Norwood, pp 273–294, 1989), and the functions of requests were identified by developing an original scheme. It was observed that the extracted pragmalinguistic features included lexico-grammatically unsuitable learner-specific patterns. Among A1 learners, the use of a declarative statement without the modal verb will (e.g., I buy it) is characteristic of requests with the function of showing an intention to purchase a particular item at a shop, while a declarative statement with a topic-comment structure (e.g., Colour is blue) is characteristic of requests with the function of elaborating a particular item that the customer wants to purchase. By contrast, A2 learners tend to increase the use of suitable patterns with modal verbs (i.e., I will take…) or conventionalised patterns (e.g., I decided to buy…). Nevertheless, they tend to produce lexico-grammatically unsuitable patterns, such as the addition of the to-infinitive to the desire verb want (e.g., I want to Japanese book), more frequently than A1 learners. These pragmalinguistic features illustrate the interlanguage aspects involved in the production of morphosyntactic or lexico-grammatical features by Japanese learners of English with low proficiency.

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Data availability

The datasets generated and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

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Acknowledgement

This research is supported by Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C): JP16K02937 and JP19K00891.

Funding

Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C): JP16K02937 & JP19K00891.

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Correspondence to Aika Miura.

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Miura, A. Extracting learner-specific pragmalinguistic features: a study of requestive speech acts produced by Japanese low-proficiency English learners. SN Soc Sci 1, 133 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s43545-021-00113-w

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Keywords

  • Spoken learner corpora
  • Interlanguage pragmatics
  • Requestive speech acts
  • Oral proficiency interviews
  • Pragmatic corpus annotation