The 'motionisation' of verbs: a contrastive study of thinking-for-speaking in English and Tunisian Arabic

Louhichi, Imed (2015) The 'motionisation' of verbs: a contrastive study of thinking-for-speaking in English and Tunisian Arabic. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

[img]
Preview
PDF - Published Version
Download (6MB) | Preview

Abstract

This thesis investigates the idea that the grammatical system of a language influences aspects of thought patterns and communicative behaviour. It examines the linguistic conceptualisation of motion events in English and Tunisian Arabic (TA) in order to contribute to current debates in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) research and its associated field of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). The main research questions are whether in learning a typologically different language, the conceptualisation acquired through first languages (L1) interferes with the learning of the conceptualisation inherent in a second language (L2).
In order to address these questions, I adopt three analytical frameworks: a
grammatical framework based on Talmy’s (1985, 2000) binary distinction between
verb-framed and satellite-framed languages, a discourse framework based on Berman and Slobin’s (1994) application of Talmy’s typology to verbal behaviour; and a ‘Whorfian’ framework based on Slobin’s (1987, 1996b) Thinking-for-Speaking’ (TfS) hypothesis. A fundamental claim of the TfS hypothesis is that the grammar of a
language and the discourse preferences of its speakers play a fundamental role in
shaping linguistic thinking. From this follows the prediction that L1-based
conceptualisation resists change when a typologically different L2 is learnt in
adulthood.
A comparison of the TfS behaviours of speakers of L1-English (L1-Eng), L1-TA, and ‘advanced’ L2-English (L2-Eng) whose L1 is TA support this prediction. Based on the notion of ‘motionisation’ – a term I coin in order to describe a conceptual strategy L1 speakers of English use when TfS about events – I show that linguistic habits are not only decisive in how the same TfS content is expressed (e.g. run from the jar versus run out of the jar), but more importantly, it is decisive in situations where speakers are ‘forced’ to pick out different aspects of the same reality for TfS purposes. The findings reported here have implications for L2 English learners, in general, and, in particular, for learners of English whose L1 may be characterised as a verb-framed language.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics > P0101 Language. Linguistic theory. Comparative grammar
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2015 10:05
Last Modified: 10 Jul 2015 10:05
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/55282

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update