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If, then, and when—Puzzles in the patterns of acquisition of Japanese conditionals Wesley M. Jacobsen Harvard University.

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Presentation on theme: "If, then, and when—Puzzles in the patterns of acquisition of Japanese conditionals Wesley M. Jacobsen Harvard University."— Presentation transcript:

1 If, then, and when—Puzzles in the patterns of acquisition of Japanese conditionals Wesley M. Jacobsen Harvard University

2 Japanese “conditionals”: hurdles for L1 English speakers A. Japanese conditionals subsume both “if” and “when” meaning (1) Jon ni atTARA yoroshiku tsutaete-kure. Jon DAT meet-COND hello convey-IMP “If you see John, say hi” OR “When you see John, say hi.” (2) a. Fuyu ni naru TO samuku naru. Winter DAT become COND cold-become “When winter comes, it gets cold.” b. Shiken ni ochiru TO sotsugyoo-dekinai. Exam DAT fail COND graduate-can-NEG “If you fail the exam, you can’t graduate.”

3 Japanese “conditionals”: hurdles for L1 English speakers B. Japanese has 4 distinct conditional patterns Four ways to say “If you press this button,...”: (3) a. Kono botan o osu TO denki ga tsuku. this button ACC press COND lights NOM go-on “If you press this button, the lights will go on.” b. Kono botan o oshiTARA denki ga tsuku. c. Kono botan o oseBA denki ga tsuku. d. Kono botan o osu NARA …. Conditionals are commonly considered to be among the most “difficult” of grammatical patterns in Japanese for L1 speakers of English to acquire

4 Japanese “conditionals”: hurdles for L1 English speakers C. Morphological considerations S1 TO S2: V1 (predicate of S1) is in citation form (osu to) S1 TARA S2: V1 is formed on past form TA (oshita + ra) S1 BA S2: V1 occurs in a unique conjugational form (oseba) S1 NARA S2: V1 is tensed, past or non-past(osu nara, oshita nara) --> Morphologically, BA form may be considered most difficult form to acquire

5 L1 acquisition of conditionals in JPN --> L1 acquisition of conditional forms (esp. TO, TARA) reported to be as early as before age 2, compared to age 3 for acquisition of English “if” (Akatsuka/Clancy 1993) --> possibly related to frequent appearance of conditionals in expressions of prohibition, suggestion (4) TabeTARA dame yo eat-COND no-good “You mustn’t eat (that)” (5) Taroo-chan mo yattemiTARA doo? Taro (you) also try-doing-COND how-about? “How about if you try doing it too, Taro?” (6) Sonna koto suru TO Kaachan okoru yo that-kind thing do COND Mommy get-upset “If you do that, Mommy will get upset”

6 Parameters of meaning in L2 acquisition of conditionals --> With TO and BA conditionals, S2 must be a statement (no requests, or expressions of first-person intentionality) A. Sentence-final “modality” (5) (5)Jon ni atTARA yoroshiku tsutaete kure. *au TO *aeBA Jon DAT meet-COND hi convey-IMP “If/when you see John, say hi to him.”

7 Parameters of meaning in L2 acquisition of conditionals --> With TO and BA conditionals, S2 must be a statement (no requests, or expressions of first-person intentionality) A. Sentence-final “modality” --> except BA is unconstrainted when V1 is stative (6) Hima ga areBA asobi ni kite kure time NOM have-COND visit PURP come-IMP “If you have time, come for a visit.” OR in certain cases of first-person intentionality in S2 (7) Shigoto ga hayaku owareBA nomi ni ikoo-to-omou. work NOM early finish-COND drink PURP go-VOL “If work gets over early, I think I’ll go drinking.”

8 Parameters of meaning in L2 acquisition of conditionals --> With TO and BA conditionals, S2 must be a statement (no requests, or expressions of first-person intentionality) A. Sentence-final “modality” On grammaticality recognition tests, even advanced L2 speakers of Japanese exhibit a poor ability to discriminate acceptable from unacceptable S2 modality in these constructions (English, Chinese, and Korean speakers did equally poorly) (Inaba 1991, Solvang 2006)

9 Parameters of meaning in L2 acquisition of conditionals --> TO, TARA, and (to a lesser extent) BA conditionals require that the event of S2 be temporally ordered after S1 B. Temporal sequence between S1 and S2 (8) Soto e *deTARA kasa o motte-ikinasai. *deru TO *dereBA Outside LOC go-COND umbrella ACC take-IMP “If you go out, take an umbrella.” Compare (9) Soto e deru NARA kasa o motte-ikinasai.

10 Parameters of meaning in L2 acquisition of conditionals B. Temporal sequence between S1 and S2 (8) Soto e *deTARA kasa o motte-ikinasai. *deru TO ??dereBA Outside LOC go-COND umbrella ACC take-IMP “If you go out, take an umbrella.” English native advanced L2 learners of Japanese exhibit poor ability to recognize unacceptability of sentence types such as the above (Chinese, Korean speakers do better) (Solvang 2006)

11 Parameters of meaning in L2 acquisition of conditionals C. Hypothetical (“if”) vs. non-hypothetical (“when”) meaning TARA and TO can be used in certain past contexts where both S1 and S2 are actual events: (9) (9) Soto ni deTARA ame ga futteita. deru TO outside LOC go-COND rain NOM fall-PROG-PAST “When I went outside, it was raining.” This is not possible with BA or NARA, which require hypothetical contexts: (10) Soto ni *dereBA ame ga futteita. *deru NARA

12 Parameters of meaning in L2 acquisition of conditionals C. Hypothetical (“if”) vs. non-hypothetical (“when”) meaning (9) (9) Soto ni deTARA ame ga futteita. deru TO outside LOC go-COND rain NOM fall-PROG-PAST “When I went outside, it was raining.” --> This usage is highly constrained: the event in S2 cannot be under the control of the subject of S1 (with TARA) or the speaker (with TO). --> TARA in actual contexts therefore often acts as a switch reference marker (Iwasaki, 1992).

13 Factual use of TARA and TO --> NOT a peripheral phenomenon in Japanese. --> Frequently used in the telling of stories and anecdotes, either as clause markers or in the form of conjunctions such as “soshiTARA” to mark the following clause as a surprising or unexpected development. --> Kato (2003) reports that this use of TARA is the second most frequent clause linker (next to the TE form) in token counts of personal oral narratives. -->Very commonly used in story books for young children

14 Factual use of TARA and TO Are these really “conditionals”? --two dimensions of conditional meaning: a. Hypothetical meaning. b. Contingent occurrence in time. --> (b) is central to TARA and TO in all contexts; (a) merely accrues as an additional meaning in certain contexts

15 Factual use of TARA and TO Factual use of TARA and TO can be seen to be modeled on a cognitive event of discovery (surprise) that provides the empirical foundation for the ability to predict future events (Jacobsen 1999). (11) Botan o osu TO denki ga tsuita. button ACC press-COND lights NOM go-on-PAST “When I pressed the button, (lo and behold) the lights went on.” --> a one-time event of discovery (12) Botan o osu TO denki ga tsuku. button ACC press-COND lights NOM go-on “If you press the button, the lights will go on.” --> based on knowledge of repeated sequential occurrence

16 Production of conditionals: L1 vs. L2 TARA and TO are felt to be more “colloquial” by native speakers than BA and NARA BA conditionals: unique informational structure --> S1 provides answer to “what should one do in order for S2 to occur?” (13) Kono kusuri o nomeBA kaze wa naoru. this medicine ACC take-COND cold TOP get-better “If you take this medicine your cold will get better.” (14) Kotae wa sensei ni kikeBA wakaru. answer TOP teacher DAT ask-COND find-out “If you ask the teacher, you’ll find out the answer.”

17 Production of conditionals: L1 vs. L2 NARA conditionals: treat S1, S2 as information, not events. --> “If (as you say/it is the case that) S1, then (I answer, say, suggest, etc.) that S2” (15) (15) Sonna-ni atama ga ii NARA kono mondai o toite-goran so head NOM good COND this problem ACC solve-try “If you’re so smart, then try solving this problem.” (16) Taroo ga kuru NARA boku wa kaeru. Taroo NOM come COND I TOP leave “If Taroo is coming, then I’m leaving.” Compare: (17) (17)Taroo ga kiTARA boku wa kaeru. “If Taroo comes, then I’ll leave.” (Kuno 1973)

18 Production of conditionals: L1 vs. L2 Unlike TO and TARA, BA and NARA are consistently hypothetical: they are NOT used in actual contexts.

19 Production of conditionals: L1 vs. L2 Ono/Jones (2008) report from a corpus of spontaneous L1 adult speech (similar findings in Kato 2003, Russell 2005): --> 52.5% of conditional tokens occur in “semi-fixed” patterns; 47.5% in “rule-based” expressions --> overall breakdown by type: TARA TO BANARA 48% 25.4% 24.3%2.3% --> of the “rule-based” cases, 58%+ are non-hypothetical

20 Production of conditionals: L1 vs. L2 Russell (2005) reports in longitudinal corpus study of L2 speech of adults living in Japan (L1 = English): --> over 12 years from initial language study, frequency of occurrence of conditional tokens shifted as follows: TARA>TO>BA>NARA --> BA>TO>TARA>NARA --> percentage of accurate use (at early stage in study): NARA > BA > TO > TARA

21 Production of conditionals: L1 vs. L2 Insofar as these data are representative, the conditional forms used most frequently (and acquired most early) by L1 speakers are the ones that exhibit the highest rate of inaccurate use and are lost most rapidly by L2 speakers of English background.

22 What about heritage speakers? Presence of conditional forms in idiomatic/ “semi-fixed” patterns (Ono/Jones 2008): A. Lexical forms TatoeBA “for example,” Moshika shiTARA “maybe” C. Modal patterns: V-nakereBA naranai “must V” B. Conjunctions: SoshiTARA “(Upon that happening), then…” D. Suggestions: V-TARA? “(How about) if you do V?”

23 What about heritage speakers? Some hypotheses/impressions: Heritage speakers of Japanese: --> exhibit roughly the same relative frequency distribution of conditional forms in their speech as natives (TARA>TO>BA>NARA) --> BUT these exhibit a higher concentration of “fixed” than “rule-based” patterns --> exhibit the same types of difficulty as L2 learners (if to a lesser extent) in discriminating between acceptable versus unacceptable conditional sentences in terms of S2 modality and temporal sequence between S1 and S2

24 Some final thoughts on teaching conditionals --> The utility of “templates” exhibiting prototypical usages S1 TARA S2, S1 TO S2 in past contexts: “Upon S1 happening/doing S1, (I observed that) S2.” S1 BA S2: “The way to bring about S2 is: If you S1, then S2.” S1 NARA S2: “If you say/if it is the case that S1, then my response, suggestion, etc., is S2.”

25 Some final thoughts on teaching conditionals --> The utility of “templates” exhibiting prototypical usages --> Achieving balance between lexical and rule-based forms involving conditionals (esp. conjunction-like forms such as soshiTARA “When I did that, then (to my surprise) …” --> More exposure to spontaneous native speech in order to develop a sensitivity to following narrative development, especially in the form of conditional- based cues.

26 ご清聴ありがとうございました。 Thank you for your kind attention!


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