PhD Research School in Linguistics and Philology

Ann-Kristin Helland

Grammaticalization of the conceptual category time

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Initial project description:

"My main objective is to study cross-linguistic influence (also called mother tongue/native language influence) in second language acquisition based on cognitive-inspired theory. In particularly, Slobin’s version of the linguistic relativity hypothesis is important for the theoretical foundation of the study. Following Slobin (1996) languages conceptualize reality differently, and consequently languages influence thoughts in different ways. This perspective is especially interesting in second language learning because certain linguistic differences between the learner’s native language and the target language are not merely a question of different grammatical form or distribution, but involve a specific conceptualization. Temporality is one of the linguistic domains that entail such a conceptualization. In my project, I study how learners of Norwegian from typologically different languages grammaticalize temporality. The main goal is to discover whether second language learners are bounded by their native language in their acquisition of the Norwegian tense system. The assumption is that the cognitive framework laid out by the native language is to some extent unalterable, and that this will lead to error patterns that can be traced back to the typology of the native language. In order to predict the difficulties of different learner groups, thoroughly contrastive analyses have to be conducted to get insight into the way their native languages conceptualize temporality. Somali and Vietnamese are central languages in this study and represent very different typologies. The analyses will be conducted in an electronic Norwegian learner corpus, Norsk andrespråkskorpus (ASK), which contains texts and personal data from test takers of different languages."

Helland successfully defended her thesis on 7 June 2013.