Warum klingt das nicht deutsch? : Probleme der Informationsstrukturierung in deutschen Texten schwedischer Schüler und Studenten
Sammanfattning: This thesis deals with the information-structural problems native speakers of Swedish have when producing texts in German as their second or foreign language (L2). The study is based on written production data from Swedish learners of German at the initial state (14-year-olds), at intermediate level (16-year-olds) and at advanced level (20-25-year-olds). These data are compared with Swedish and German native control corpora, matched for age and text genre. Approximately 400 compositions collected 1999-2005 have been analyzed. The advanced L2 learners’ productions have also been judged and commented on by 60 native German-speaking informants. Quantitative and qualitative analyses of the data are provided and the results are evaluated in light of current theories of language acquisition and information structure. The aim of the present study is to investigate in what way the information structure in L2 German deviates from that of native German (L1). It is hypothesized that learners transfer their language-specific L1 information structure to the new language. Since the initial position of the sentence, the so-called ‘prefield’ (Vorfeld), is of special importance in establishing textual coherence by anchoring the clause in discourse, the present study focuses on the prefield in declarative main clauses and the use of theme-rheme progression in the L2.Swedish and German are typologically and syntactically close. Both are V2-languages (SVO vs. SOV) with the finite verb in declarative main clauses in second position and thus only allow one clause element in the first position of the sentence. Although almost any type of element can occur in this position, my findings indicate that the first sentence position is used differently in Swedish and German. When comparing L1 German and L1 Swedish, language-specific patterns emerge.The results indicate that learners at all proficiency levels have problems with the acquisition of the language-specific linguistic means that have an impact on information structuring, indicating L1 transfer in a domain other than pure syntax, especially concerning structures that are frequent in their L1 (as subject-initial clauses, clefts, fronted thematic objects (det/das ‘this’) and constructions with så/so ‘so’).Not only do the learners have difficulties with mastering the language-specific information structure of the second language, but also with thematic progression in texts. Here the learners breach more general, and arguably universal, principles of discourse organisation, whereas they do not do so in their first language. Thus, for L2 learners it seems difficult to handle both universal and language-specific patterns of discourse organisation at the same time.
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