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The Acquisition of Italian Discourse Markers as a Function of Studying Abroad

  • Elisa De Cristofaro
  • Linda BadanEmail author
Original Paper
  • 9 Downloads

Abstract

This paper investigates the effect of a period of study in Italy on the use of discourse markers (DMs) by Belgian–Dutch learners of Italian as a second language (L2). We recorded dialogical exchanges between 8 Belgian–Dutch learners of L2 Italian, before and after an Erasmus exchange of 6 months in an Italian university. The results of our investigation reveal that, both pre- and post-Erasmus, the most used DMs are ‘yes’, ok, allora ‘so, then’, quindi ‘then, therefore’, dunque ‘therefore’, be’ ‘well’. Our research also shows that the main effect of the period of study abroad is the increased variation of the pragmatic functions of DMs used by the L2 speakers. Whereas before the Erasmus, DMs are employed almost exclusively with an interactional function, after the Erasmus their spectrum of functions is broaden to cognitive and the meta-discursive functions. Interestingly, we also observe that after the Erasmus, some DMs are used with different non-target functions: we argue that these uses must be analyzed as interferences with the learners’ language background. We conclude the paper with some remarks on the effect of the period of study abroad on L2 fluency, analyzing the clustering of DMs with filled pauses.

Keywords

Discourse markers Study abroad L2 Italian L1 Dutch Pragmatic functions Linguistic interference 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We wish to thank Claudia Crocco for her crucial feedback on the design of the experiment, and Koen Plevoets for his precious help on the statistical analysis of the data. We also thank Giuliano Izzo, who helped us to recruit the participants. We are grateful to Ellen Simon, Mathijs Debaene, June Eyckmans and the audience of the sixth edition of the DISROM conference, for their useful comments and suggestions. All errors remain ours.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Vakgroep Vertalen, tolken en communicatie, Faculteit Letteren en WijsbegeerteUniversiteit GentGhentBelgium

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