L2 discourse markers and the development of interactional competence during study abroad
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In my dissertation, I use the theories and methodologies of Conversation Analysis (or “CA”, see Sacks et al., 1974) to investigate how speakers of a second language (or 'L2') develop the ability to interact in the L2 — or how they develop their interactional competence (or 'IC', see Hall & Pekarek Doehler, 2011). IC research has described how, over time, L2 speakers develop their IC by becoming able to perform actions, such as disagree (Pekarek Doehler & [Pochon-Berger], 2011), tell stories (Berger & Pekarek Doehler, 2018; Pekarek Doehler & Berger, 2018), and complain (Skogmyr Marian, 2021), more recognizably for their co-interactants. To perform such actions in interaction more recognizably, L2 speakers diversify the members' methods (Garfinkel, 1967, p. vii) they employ in performing those actions in the L2. While prior IC research has predominantly taken as an analytic starting point an action environment, I take as a starting a linguistic resource, specifically discourse markers. Discourse markers are words (e.g., English well, German also) or phrases (e.g., English y'know, German guck mal "look") which show the connection between discursive units and instruct co-interactants how to interpret some current turn at talk against the prior talk. Previous IC studies were able to describe developing L2 IC in terms of co-interactants' visible interpretations of L2 speakers' actions. Co-interactants, however, rarely display their understanding of the use of a particular linguistic resource. By taking discourse markers as an analytic starting point, my dissertation thus offers a different approach to and understanding of IC and its development. In my dissertation, I analyze the everyday interactions of two L2 speakers of German — Rachel and Nina — who are sojourning in Germany. First, I analyze speaker Rachel's use of the particle combination achja in sequence initial positions. In response to some information, L1 speakers of German use achja to claim remembering of that information (Betz & Golato, 2008). While Rachel exclusively uses achja in sequence-initial position, she takes advantage of achja's function as a claim of now-remembering to do some other interactional work, specifically to index now-remembering after a search, to backlink, and to do resumption (in combination with the particle also). Following these analyses, I explore the ways in which her experiences participating in German interaction as well as her L1 (English) could be influencing her use of achja also to accomplish resumption in everyday German interaction. I find that Rachel, while using resources from the L2, is transferring a strategy for resumption from her L1 into her L2 in her resumptions. I then do a longitudinal analysis (see Wagner et al., 2018) of Nina's use of the multi-functional discourse marker also. My analysis finds that Nina uses also at the beginning of the sojourn to maintain intersubjectivity and at the end to repair intersubjectivity. I describe Nina's trajectory of IC development through also as pruning, at term which captures both the growth/strengthening of new uses as well as the dropping of others. I also forward an understanding of IC as the ability to contribute to the organization of interaction, one that harkens back to Psathas' (1990) description of interactional competence as the ability to collaboratively produce structures of interaction. In my final chapter, I use my analytical findings to scrutinize the ethnomethodological notions of member and membership, both of which have been broadly described in CA research in terms of culture, society, and language (e.g., Hellermann, 2008, 2011; Robinson, 2016; Sacks, 1992; ten Have, 2002). I argue that, by using such a conceptualization of membership, CA and IC research do not accurately capture the ways in which interactants orient to each other's contributions in interactions, nor do the fields capture the nuanced and fluid nature of membership and differing access to methods that members may have. By diversifying the approaches we take to studying IC — e.g., by taking L2 linguistic resources as our starting points — we can deepen our understanding what it means to become interactionally competent in a second language.
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Ronald Samuel Karl Schirm (2022). L2 discourse markers and the development of interactional competence during study abroad. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/17978