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Third-Person Subjects in Native Speakers' and L2 Learners' Narratives: Testing (and Revising) the Givenness Hierarchy for Spanish
Sarah E. Blackwell and Margaret Lubbers Quesada
142-164 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This study examines native speakers' (NSs) and second language (L2) learners' use of Spanish third-person expressions to refer to grammatical subjects in oral narratives in light of Gundel, Hedberg and Zacharski's Givenness Hierarchy (1993), which proposes that "the form of a referring expression...depends on the assumed cognitive status of the referent" (275). The use of subject expressions (e.g., null subjects, pronouns, NPs) was analyzed in terms of the cognitive status of their corresponding referents, using a revised Givenness Hierarchy. Cognitive status was found to influence the subject choices made by both NSs and learners. NSs tended to use the most minimal form possible given the cognitive status of the referent, whereas learners tended to use less minimal forms. This analysis tested the explanatory adequacy of cognitive statuses as constraints on the form and distribution of referring expressions in Spanish and offers a better account for reference in narrative discourse.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 14th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium
edited by Kimberly Geeslin and Manuel Díaz-Campos
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Printed edition: $295.00