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The clause-initial position in L2 German declaratives: Transfer of information structure
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Languages, Department of Linguistics and Philology.
Växjö universitet, Humaniora.
2008 (English)In: Studies in Second Language Acquisition, ISSN 0272-2631, E-ISSN 1470-1545, Vol. 30, no 4, 511-538 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article investigates the information structure of verb-second (V2) declaratives in Swedish, German, and nonnative German. Even though almost any type of element can occur in the so-called prefield, the clause-initial preverbal position of V2 declaratives, we have found language-specific patterns in native-speaker corpora: The frequencies of prefield constituent types differ substantially between German and Swedish, and Swedish postpones new (rhematic) information and instead fills the prefield with given (thematic) elements and elements of no or low informational value (e.g., expletives) to a far greater extent than German. We compare Swedish learners of German to native controls matched for age and Genre (Bohnacker 2005, 2006; Rosén 2006). These learners master the syntactic properties of V2 but start their sentences in nonnative ways. They overapply the Swedish principle of rheme later in their second language German, indicating first language (L1) transfer at the interace of syntax and information structure, especially for structures that are frequent in the L1.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 30, no 4, 511-538 p.
National Category
Specific Languages General Language Studies and Linguistics
Research subject
Linguistics; German; Scandinavian Languages
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-293421OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-293421DiVA: diva2:927694
information structure, discourse pragmatics, syntax, V2, German, Swedish, transfer L2, L1, native speaker, nonnative, prefield, corpus, expletive, learner language, clause-initial, interface
Swedish Research Council, 412-2002-982
Available from: 2016-05-12 Created: 2016-05-12 Last updated: 2016-05-12

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Bohnacker, Ute
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