- Competenza pragmatica e complessità sintattica in italiano L2: l’uso dei modificatori nelle richieste
- Linguistica e Filologia
- Volume | Issue number
- 25 | 1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication (ACLC)
Although there is evidence to suggest that the development of pragmatic competence is closely linked to that of grammatical competence, the exact nature of the relationship is yet unknown. In light of the well established fact that even the pragmatic competence of advanced L2 learners is mostly incomplete, in SLA it is generally accepted that grammatical competence does not necessarily imply pragmatic competence. A lack of grammatical competence, however, can seriously affect a learner’s capacity of being communicatively successful. The level of grammatical competence, therefore, seems to act as a constraint on the acquisition of pragmatic competence.
The present article discusses the results of an experiment, designed to examine the use of modifiers in requests, in relation to syntactic complexity in Italian L2, carried out among 46 Dutch university students, with a low-intermediate proficiency level of Italian. The linguistic focus of the study is on the use of socalled modifiers, which can be employed to mitigate the illocutionary force of a speech act. For beginning L2 learners the use of modifiers is often particularly difficult. With increasing proficiency, the use of modifiers moves towards nativelike use, but hardly ever reaches the L1-norm.
In the study participants had to perform an interactive oral task, consisting of a videorecorded role-play, based on a short situational description. Syntactic complexity was
defined in terms of the number of words, clauses and subclauses per AS-unit. A cloze
test was administered to establish the general level of L2 proficiency. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the implications for further research into the interface
between the development of pragmatics and syntactic complexity.
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