Task Variation in Interlanguage Phonology

Sato, Charlene J.
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Research on phonological aspects of second language acquisition (SLA) has been built in large part upon a foundation of Labovian sociolinguistics. A major goal of such research is to describe and explain systematic variation in linguistic phenomena with reference to such factors as speech situation, discourse topic, speech situation, and interlocutor roles and relationships. In the most clearly articulated work in this tradition to date, Tarone (1979, 1982, 1983) posits speech style as the locus of variation in interlanguage (IL) development. The principle claim made is that learner speech "varies systematically with elicitation task'' in terms of phonological, morphological, and syntactic structure (Tarone 1983, p. 142), and that this variability must be accounted for by an adequate model of SLA. While earlier studies have provided support for this claim, Tarone (1983) notes the serious need for longitudinal studies with data collected on different communicative tasks which reflect different speech styles, e.g. spontaneous conversation, elicitation, oral reading, and grammaticality judgments. The present study directly addresses this need through a longitudinal analysis of natural speech produced by an adolescent Vietnamese learner of English.
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