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On cross‐linguistic variation and measures of linguistic complexity in learner texts: Italian, French and English

Bernardini, Petra LU and Granfeldt, Jonas LU (2019) In International Journal of Applied Linguistics
Abstract (Swedish)
The paper investigates possible effects of cross-linguistic variation on measures of syntactic complexity in 60 texts from learners of L2 English, L3 French and L4 Italian at CEFR level A and CEFR level B. A previous study by Gyllstad et al. (2014) showed significant differences between proficiency levels for two length measures of complexity in English and French, but not in Italian.
In this paper we hypothesize that due to structural properties of Italian (e.g. Null subjects), the developmental prediction for these measures might be different in Italian compared to French and English. In fact, previous research has suggested that beginner learners of Italian overuse overt subjects which might lead to higher scores, relatively... (More)
The paper investigates possible effects of cross-linguistic variation on measures of syntactic complexity in 60 texts from learners of L2 English, L3 French and L4 Italian at CEFR level A and CEFR level B. A previous study by Gyllstad et al. (2014) showed significant differences between proficiency levels for two length measures of complexity in English and French, but not in Italian.
In this paper we hypothesize that due to structural properties of Italian (e.g. Null subjects), the developmental prediction for these measures might be different in Italian compared to French and English. In fact, previous research has suggested that beginner learners of Italian overuse overt subjects which might lead to higher scores, relatively speaking, of length measures in Italian at the lowest levels of proficiency. However, contrary to our hypothesis, we did not find more Null subjects at CEFR level B than at CEFR level A, but we did find clear restrictions on their distribution. We conclude that we are a long way from understanding how cross-linguistic differences interact with other variables such as tasks and language combinations and what the effects might be on measures of syntactic complexity.
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Abstract
The paper investigates possible effects of cross‐linguistic variation on measures of syntactic complexity in 60 texts from Swedish L1 learners of English, French and Italian as foreign languages at CEFR level A and CEFR level B. A previous study on the same learners and texts, showed significant differences between proficiency levels for two length measures of complexity in English and French, but not in Italian. In this paper we hypothesize that due to the Null Subject property of Italian, the developmental prediction for some complexity measures might be different in Italian compared to French and English. In fact, previous research has suggested that beginner learners of Italian overuse overt subjects which might lead to higher scores,... (More)
The paper investigates possible effects of cross‐linguistic variation on measures of syntactic complexity in 60 texts from Swedish L1 learners of English, French and Italian as foreign languages at CEFR level A and CEFR level B. A previous study on the same learners and texts, showed significant differences between proficiency levels for two length measures of complexity in English and French, but not in Italian. In this paper we hypothesize that due to the Null Subject property of Italian, the developmental prediction for some complexity measures might be different in Italian compared to French and English. In fact, previous research has suggested that beginner learners of Italian overuse overt subjects which might lead to higher scores, relatively speaking, of length measures in Italian at the lowest levels of proficiency. However, contrary to our hypothesis, we did not find more Null subjects at CEFR level B than at CEFR level A, but we did find clear restrictions on their distribution. We conclude that we are a long way from understanding how cross‐linguistic differences interact with other variables such as tasks and language combinations and what the effects might be on measures of syntactic complexity. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
epub
subject
keywords
English, French, Italian, L2 acquisition, null subjects, syntactic complexity, typological differences
in
International Journal of Applied Linguistics
pages
22 pages
publisher
Wiley-Blackwell
external identifiers
  • scopus:85063622493
ISSN
1473-4192
DOI
10.1111/ijal.12257
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
1fc18cea-3459-4bd4-906d-0aa2ce4d50d8
date added to LUP
2017-08-15 10:05:30
date last changed
2019-04-14 03:59:43
@article{1fc18cea-3459-4bd4-906d-0aa2ce4d50d8,
  abstract     = {The paper investigates possible effects of cross‐linguistic variation on measures of syntactic complexity in 60 texts from Swedish L1 learners of English, French and Italian as foreign languages at CEFR level A and CEFR level B. A previous study on the same learners and texts, showed significant differences between proficiency levels for two length measures of complexity in English and French, but not in Italian. In this paper we hypothesize that due to the Null Subject property of Italian, the developmental prediction for some complexity measures might be different in Italian compared to French and English. In fact, previous research has suggested that beginner learners of Italian overuse overt subjects which might lead to higher scores, relatively speaking, of length measures in Italian at the lowest levels of proficiency. However, contrary to our hypothesis, we did not find more Null subjects at CEFR level B than at CEFR level A, but we did find clear restrictions on their distribution. We conclude that we are a long way from understanding how cross‐linguistic differences interact with other variables such as tasks and language combinations and what the effects might be on measures of syntactic complexity.},
  author       = {Bernardini, Petra and Granfeldt, Jonas},
  issn         = {1473-4192},
  keyword      = {English,French,Italian,L2 acquisition,null subjects,syntactic complexity,typological differences},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {03},
  pages        = {22},
  publisher    = {Wiley-Blackwell},
  series       = {International Journal of Applied Linguistics},
  title        = {On cross‐linguistic variation and measures of linguistic complexity in learner texts: Italian, French and English},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ijal.12257},
  year         = {2019},
}