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Information Structure and Second Language Acquisition: Non-canonical Word Order in Spanish

by

Brian McDonough, B.A.

Report

Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Texas at Austin in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of

Master of Arts in Ibero-Romance Philology and Linguistics

The University of Texas at Austin December, 2005

Information Structure and Second Language Acquisition: Non-canonical Word Order in Spanish

APPROVED BY SUPERVISING COMMITTEE: ___________________________ ___________________________

For my darling wife Mindelina and for the precious creation she holds within her (and her amazingly advanced usage of past-participles) Thanks for your love, constant support, and encouragement!

Acknowledgements Dr. Dale April Koike has been an amazing advisor and has given me a lot of direction and support on this report and throughout the process of earning my masters degree. Dr. Knud Lambrecht first sparked my interest in information structure in a guest lecture he gave in a Discourse Analysis and Pragmatics course. I have been fascinated with his field of study ever since. I would like to thank him for that and for being a reader on this report. Heidi Klein at Westwood High School offered her AP/IB Spanish V class. I thank her and her students for participating in the study. Thanks to my dogs Sequoia and Cheyenne for being constant companions and waiting patiently next to me as I typed away on the computer. I would like to thank my family for not telling me I am crazy for quitting my job and going to graduate school full-time. I would like to thank my wife for supporting me in every way (emotionally, financially, etc.) throughout the process of earning this degree. She has always been a great source of motivation. And last but not least, I would like to thank my unborn child for notifying me a week before my report was due, that he or she will be coming into the world. He/she provided me with last minute motivation to complete this report on time.

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Information Structure and Second Language Acquisition: Non-canonical Word Order in Spanish

by

Brian McDonough, M.A. The University of Texas at Austin, 2005 SUPERVISOR: Dale April Koike This study investigates second language acquisition (SLA) by 51 Englishspeaking intermediate and advanced learners of Spanish regarding information structure. Spanish, like English, is generally considered an SVO language; however, that SVO order has a tendency to change often in spoken Spanish for pragmatic reasons. Many times these changes are manifested through topicalization and left-dislocation. The study investigates the interface of SLA and pragmatics and syntax by examining the following three areas: (1) the development of pragmatic/syntactic stages in L2 learners; (2) devices that raise attention levels (Tomlin and Villa, 1994) for the L2 learner and develop their comprehension of complex structures (pragmatically appropriate/near-native structures); and (3) the existence of an order of acquisition for Spanish word order, focusing on comprehension and not on production. The results of the study indicate that intermediate and advanced learners are in approximately the same stage of syntactic/pragmatic development. Both groups were able to structure information in much the same fashion on a consciousness-raising activity that combined a syntactic task with pragmatic-motivated utterances. This study found that intermediate and advanced L2 learners do have an order of acquisition for word order structures in the L2. v

Table of Contents 1. Introduction...1 2. SLA Literature Review.................................................................................................9 3. Framework of the Study.11 4. Research Questions/Hypotheses20 5. Methodology24 6. Analysis of Results..28 7. Discussion40 8. Conclusions..42 9. Limitations...44 10. Appendix....49 11. References58 12. VITA.64

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