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Transcript of DEFINING 'ERROR'
MEASURE OF DEVIANCE
Learners’ ignorance of TL can be expressed in terms of four categories:
4. strangeness and infelicity
Synonymous with ‘well-formedness’
The grammar (not you or I) is who decides whether something said by the learner is grammatical.
Appeal to grammaticality is an attempt to be objective, to take decision such as whether some bit of language is erroneous or not out of the orbit of human whim.
If we can point to a bit of language and say that there are no circumstances where this could ever be said in this way, we are dealing with ungrammaticality.
There is no context where an ungrammatical bit of language could be right.
- it can be manifested in two ways:
in silence: when the learner makes no response, says or write nothing.
Two sort of silence:
cultural silence: Finns or Japanese (silent culture)
Silence induced by ignorance(avoidance): provide very little information
Compensate the ignorance (‘beg, steal, or borrow’)
the study of this substitutive language is EA.
the study of knowledge is called epistemology
specialist in the theoretical fields of language acquisition and syntactic theory are language epistemologist.
study the nature and development of people’s knowledge of language
write accounts of that knowledge, which are called ‘grammars’
EA is on the other side, being the study of linguistic ignorance, the investigation of what people do not know and how they attempt to cope with their ignorance.
the error analyst’s object to enquiry is the FL learner’s ignorance of the TL.
defining the key terms so that we could be able to think clearly about EA and understand precisely what the terms mean, how they differ from each other, and how they are mutually defined.
ignorance is not synonymous with incompleteness
but as long as there is incompleteness or failure to attain full NS-like knowledge of the TL, there will be EA.
how ignorance is different from incompleteness:
incompleteness is global concept that refers to an overall insufficiency (compared with NS competence) across all area of the TL.
ignorance is specific in the sense that one is normally said to be ignorant of such-and-such a structure, irrespective of one’s overall proficiency in the TL.
in some occasion it said that it seems that the learners (NNS) know the FL better than the NS they are talking to. The NSs are the ones who assert unashamedly that The foreigners’ English is ‘better’ and that the incompleteness lies with the NS’s not with the learners.
when we define error with reference to NSs, which implies comparison between NNSs and NSs’ utterances, we must make sure not to idealize the entities compared.
the comparison should rather be between two real individuals, or at least two categories of person.
Concrete definition of error, by Lennon (1991:182): a linguistic form … which, in the same context… would in all likelihood not to be produced by the learner’s native speaker counterparts.
If on the other hand, we can agree that it might be said in some context, it is well-formed.
The main problem with using grammaticality as a reference point is that different grammars will register different decisions concerning borderline cases.
On the clear-cut cases, there will be no such inconsistency.
These clear-cut cases we can only confidently refer to as the ‘code’ or the ‘core’ grammar, and agree with Corder (1971:101) that ungrammaticality involves ‘breaches of rules in the code’.
Not a theoretical but a practical notion, being determined by the use or usability of the form in question
In other words, when non-linguistic factors militate against the use of a form, we attribute this to unacceptability.
NS is the one who decides whether an utterance is grammatical. The user is the one who decides whether it is acceptable.
For some there can be no acceptability without grammaticality.
Grammaticality is a prerequisite for acceptability
: an acceptable utterance is one that has been, or might be, produced by a native speaker in some appropriate context and is, or would be, accepted by other native speakers as belonging to the language in question.
‘belonging to the language in question’ appeal to grammaticality.
‘ an ungrammatical utterance is one that a native speaker can not only recognize as unacceptable, but can also correct.’(relationship: acceptability and grammaticality)
To decide on the acceptability of a piece of language we refer not to rules, but to contexts, trying to contextualize the utterance in question.
The idea that one refers to ‘the grammar’ when deciding on grammaticality whereas one refers to context in deciding matters of acceptability cannot be quite right.
Lennon makes the valid and perceptive point that ‘most “erroneous forms” are, in fact, in themselves not erroneous at all, but become erroneous only in the context of the larger linguistic units in which they occur’.
e.g. textbook page (68)
When the error is only reveal by reference to the larger context discourse, that is the real world --> a covert ( not overt) error. (corder,1973:272)
A covert error is superficially well-formed, but does not match intentions: it is right by chance.
erroneous: unacceptable language.
four possible combinations of grammaticality and acceptability :
[+Grammatical (GR) +Acceptable (ACC)]
--> They are unacceptable precisely because of their ungrammaticality, since ungrammaticality is one of several grounds for unacceptability. (EA most concern)
[+Grammatical -Acceptable] --> misleading the reader
[-Grammatical +Acceptable] --> ought to be impossible.
eight possible sources of unacceptability:
failure to fit the intended context
the unusual, bizarre nature of the idea expressed, or reference to an inconceivable situation.
an unusual way of referring to a nonetheless conceivable situation
floating customary collocations
producing unusual grammar or phonological configurations
producing hard-to-process syntactic or phonological complexity
upsetting the balance of sentence parts, e.g. excessive end-wight being assigned to a sentence element
breaking rules that are not so much natural rules 'of the language'
connection between covert and overt and two types of learner strategy: achievement and reduction strategies.
: involves the learner finding alternative ways to express their meanings in the face of discovering that they lack the most natural means to do so.
: involves deciding to say less that orignally intended, since one lacks the means to say all one wishes to.
errors resulting from learners deploying achievement strategies will be easily detectable since they prefer risking all on getting their message across by whatever means.
learners deploying reduction strategies seem to commit few errors.
avoiding certain forms and nevertheless succeed in putting across their message in paraphrase allow them to produces little overt error.
sacrificing part of their desired meaning they the will be commiting covert errors.