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The impact of discourse types on the acquisition of nominal determination in L2 French

Marzena Watorek (Paris), Ewa Lenart (Paris) and Pascale Trévisiol (Poitiers)


This article, based on a functionalist approach, deals with the potential influence of the information structure in a given type of spoken discourse on the acquisition of linguistic means. We show that the acquisitional path of noun determination in L2 French is different depending on the communicative task: it can vary according to the type of discourse within a single language. The use of NPs to refer to entities was analyzed in two types of discourse (film retelling and spatial description) in three groups of Polish learners at three levels of proficiency.

Two types of acquisitional phenomena, dependent on and independent of the type of discourse, have been identified. To illustrate the first type, NPs with an indefinite value (such as un+N) are much more frequent in descriptions than in narratives: the use of these forms is determined by the marking of the introduction of referents and change of reference, that are more common in descriptions. The comparison with the results of previous studies on NP acquisition allows us to put in perspective the precocity of the acquisition of the definite article compared to that of the indefinite article. Contrary to such studies, our results show that definite and indefinite determiners appear at the same time. Their frequency of use varies according to the communicative task and the type of discourse produced. The absence of a form in a certain type of production does not mean that it is absent in the learner's L2 system. Thus, the consideration of various contexts of production is imperative to describe the acquisition of linguistic means.

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