Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

Institut für Deutsch als Fremdsprachenphilologie

From 'Thinking to Speaking' to 'Seeing for Speaking'

Speaker: Barbara Schmiedtová

Affiliation: University of Heidelberg,

Title: From 'Thinking to Speaking' to 'Seeing for Speaking'


Previous studies on event time structures, which included Semitic, Germanic, and Romance languages, revealed language-specific effects in the way events are construed. It was shown that the underlying principles are perspective driven, but are also strongly linked to patterns of grammaticalization (cf. Carroll & v. Stutterheim, 2004, v. Stutterheim & Carroll 2003; v. Stutterheim & Lambert 2005). Additionally, recent L2 production studies have provided evidence that even very advanced learners rely on conceptualization strategies from their L1 when construing temporal events in an L2 (cf. Carroll & Lambert 2003, Schmiedtova & Sahonenko, 2008).

A set of short clips featuring everyday situations was used to elicit data for this study. Various aspectual relations, e.g. completed vs. on-going, were depicted in the situations. The informants' task was to produce on-line retellings of the clips.

We argue that patterns of information construal are language-specific and strongly driven by grammaticalized features rooted in the linguistic system of the L1. We will present and compare the results of oral production and eye-tracking data from Czech, English, Polish, and Russian advanced learners of German and discuss the consequences of our findings for the “ultimate attainment” discussion and linguistic relativity in general.