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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

On Identifying Situations of Use: L1 and L2 Knowledge about Situation-Bound Utterances
by Allendorfer, William Hastings, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2020, 264; 28001264
Abstract (Summary)

For over 40 years, experimental pragmatics research has operationalized situations as scenarios for discourse completions, roleplays, and meaningful tasks. Scenarios simulate real world situations, encouraging “authentic” situational language use in experimental settings. This study proposes situational elicitation as a new research method to both establish situation-bound utterances (SBUs) and ground pragmatics production scenarios empirically in shared situations of use provided by discourse community members. The efficacy of this novel method is evaluated for both of these applications, and implications for L2 pragmatics research are provided.

Four situational characteristics have been identified for constructing scenarios: context, speakers, location, and motivation (Bardovi-Harlig, 2013; Di Pietro, 1987). Following Kecskes’ (2008, 2010) reasoning that utterances co-construct their situations of use, situational elicitations seek to evoke these four characteristics from speakers’ knowledge of conventionalized utterances strongly associated with specific situations of use, known as Situation-Bound Utterances (SBUs). In other words, participants given SBUs (e.g. “Welcome aboard!”) should be able to produce potential context, speakers, location, and motivation for use.

In the pilot phase of the project, situational elicitations for 20 SBUs were administered to 20 native English speaker undergraduates. Participants independently attempted to identify all potential situations of use for each pre-recorded SBU. Top contexts of use emerging from participant responses (i.e. over 50%) were used to construct 28 elicitation scenarios.

Situational elicitations were then confirmed in two ways: with replication and experimental application. First, the situational elicitation task was re-administered to 10 native English speakers, whose responses reinforced earlier findings. Next, an oral production task was delivered using the 28 elicitation scenarios to elicit common expressions possible in each pre-recorded scenario, potentially including the initial SBUs. Scenarios were delivered to 20 native English speakers (10 undergraduate peers, 10 local residents) and 21 non-native English speakers (undergraduate peers). Results demonstrate grounded scenarios elicit the initial SBUs from native and non-native speakers: 21/28 (75%) and 12/28 (43%), respectively. Implications for developing production scenarios and eliciting specific SBUs in first and second language research are presented.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: LeSourd, Philip S.
Commitee: Félix-Brasdefer, J. César, Suslak, Daniel F., Herring, Susan C.
School: Indiana University
Department: Second Language Studies
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 81/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics, English as a Second Language, Language
Keywords: Conventional expressions, Pragmatics, Roleplay, SBUs, Scenario, Situation-bound utterances
Publication Number: 28001264
ISBN: 9798662368156
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