Utterance structure in context: first and second language acquisition in a cross-linguistic perspective

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Christiane von Stutterheim
In cooperation with: Prof. Dr. Maya Hickmann (University of Paris) und Dr. Christine Dimroth (MPI Nijmegen)
Collaborators: Dr. Mary Carroll, Monique Flecken M.A.
Sponsorship: DFG October 2008 - October 2011


This ANR-DFG project is a cooperation between 2 French teams (UMR 7023 & 8163, University of Paris 8) and two German teams (Heidelberg, MPI for Psycholinguistics). It aims to compare the processes and the endstates of L1 and L2 acquisition, focusing on three linguistic domains: 1) information structure, 2) time, and 3) space. We are interested in examining the role of universal cognitive versus language-specific determinants of acquisition.

Cross-linguistic comparisons are carried out between a number of linguistic systems that differ in the above mentioned 3 domains of linguistic analysis.

The contribution of the Heidelberg group will consist of a detailed analysis of L2 users’ linguistic performance at different levels of proficiency (beginners, intermediate to (very) advanced). A specific focus will be placed on the interrelation between expressions of time and space, as it occurs in the description of motion events. Furthermore, we apply the psycho-linguistic method of eye tracking in order to gain insight into conceptualization processes for speaking. The languages investigated are, amongst others, German, French, English, Arabic, Dutch and Spanish.