On cross‐linguistic variation and measures of linguistic complexity in learner texts: Italian, French and English

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The paper investigates possible effects of cross-linguistic variation on measures of syntactic complexity in 60 texts from learners of L2 English, L3 French and L4 Italian at CEFR level A and CEFR level B. A previous study by Gyllstad et al. (2014) showed significant differences between proficiency levels for two length measures of complexity in English and French, but not in Italian.
In this paper we hypothesize that due to structural properties of Italian (e.g. Null subjects), the developmental prediction for these measures might be different in Italian compared to French and English. In fact, previous research has suggested that beginner learners of Italian overuse overt subjects which might lead to higher scores, relatively speaking, of length measures in Italian at the lowest levels of proficiency. However, contrary to our hypothesis, we did not find more Null subjects at CEFR level B than at CEFR level A, but we did find clear restrictions on their distribution. We conclude that we are a long way from understanding how cross-linguistic differences interact with other variables such as tasks and language combinations and what the effects might be on measures of syntactic complexity.


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Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Språkstudier
  • Jämförande språkvetenskap och lingvistik


Antal sidor22
TidskriftInternational Journal of Applied Linguistics
Tidigt onlinedatum2019 mar 29
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 2019 mar 29
Peer review utfördJa

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