Reference: Activity 2


What did the child do with the bottle?

In the table below we have laid out for you the way Jiulin and AnnaLiand two native speakers of Chinese referred to the same event in the Narrative Task.

Jiulin

女孩子拿起, 拿起一个瓶啤酒, 一啤酒瓶, 一瓶啤酒, 嗯,那她放在老人的钱包

AnnaLi

那个孩子又无聊,嗯,噢,(laugh)(…)带一个东西放在,嗯,老人的包(…)里

Native Speaker 1

这个小女儿从这个货物架上面拿下了一个酒瓶,然后在她们聊天的时候,她没有注意到这个小女孩把这个酒瓶塞到了这个老奶奶的书包里面

Native Speaker 2

这个小女孩,嗯,偷偷地从这个货架上拿了一瓶,嗯,这个酱油或者是饮料之类的,然后塞进了这个老奶奶的她的包里面

1. Compare the learner versions with the way Native Speaker 1 and 2 describe this event. Pay particular attention to the language they use when narrating what the child did with the bottle.

1) What terms do they use to refer to this event’s actions, characters, objects, and locations? How do they signal connections among these?

2)What differences do you notice between the native-speaker and the learner versions of this narrative, and what are some possible reasons for those differences?

2. We also provide the two learners’ written description of the event below.


Jiulin’s written Narrative:

女儿提些休啤酒。在老人钱句理,她放一休

AnnaLi’s written Narrative:

她 suíbiàn ná dōng西放在老人的bao里

Compare how the two learners refer to the same event in the oral and written Narratives. What differences do you notice between these two versions, and possible reasons for these?

Please type your answers to the questions in the box below.

When you have finished typing your answer, click to compare your response with the Learner Language staff response.

1.


Referents

Linguistic expressions

Jiulin

AnnaLi

NS1

NS2

Child (character)

女孩子

那个孩子

这个小女儿

这个小女孩

Shelf (location 1)

/

从这个货物架上面

从这个货架上

Taking (action 1)

拿起

拿下

Bottle (object 1)

一个瓶啤酒*, 一啤酒瓶, 一瓶啤酒

一个东西

一个酒瓶

一瓶,嗯,这个酱油或者是饮料之类的

Put (action 2)

放在

放在

(把…)塞到

塞进

Bottle (object 2)

这个酒瓶

/

Purse/bag (location 2)

(老人的)钱包

(老人的)包 里

(这个老奶奶的)书包里面

(这个老奶奶的她的)包里面

Both learners’ responses are shorter than the native speakers’. The NSs refer to some entities that the learners do not mention, and seem to use more precise referential expressions than the learners do. For example, both NSs mention the shelf, although using different words (“货物架”,“货架”). It seems that Jiulin may not know the word in Chinese as he refers to the shelf in the previous sentence as  “那个放,放东西的东西 (that thing where things are put)”, using the strategy of circumlocution. In the event above, he doesn’t refer to the shelf at all, nor does AnnaLi. Not referring to an item that is a part of the essential structure of a task constitutes what Tarone and Yule (1989) refer to as “topic avoidance”. In including mention of the shelf as part of the essential structure of this task, Tarone and Yule note (pp. 55-59) that 2/3 of their speakers refer to this location (“shelf”), and those who do not tend to have already referred to the action of “shopping”, implying the existence of this location.

In referring to action 1, both NSs use the verb “拿 (take)” in combination with adverbials signifying locations “从…上 (from above…)”. Jiulin uses the same verb but does not include any adverbials. (He does attempt to use “从 (from)” once in the previous sentence, but incorrectly.) AnnaLi uses the verb “带 (to bring)”, which is not appropriate here, and no adverbials (in using this verb she is possibly conflating “bring”, “take”, or “carry”). Both Jiulin and NS1 use verbal complements (“起”, “下”), which are grammatically optional here. In referring to action 2, both learners use the verb “放 (to put)”, which is correct but less manner specific than the one used by the two NSs, “塞 (to squeeze, or to stuff)”. The two learners may not have learned this latter verb. Jiulin does not use the complement “里 (in)” that is supposed to accompany the main verb, while AnnaLi and the two NSs do.
In referring to the object, AnnaLi uses a general term “东西 (thing)”. Jiulin uses two classifiers (“个”, “瓶”) in the first phrase, which is redundant, and then provides two alternatives: “一啤酒瓶(a beer bottle)”, and “一瓶啤酒(a bottle of beer)”. He may be thinking aloud while pondering which phrase is accurate or appropriate to describe the bottle. Or maybe he is trying to ensure the message gets across (using the strategy of over-elaboration). Both the learners and the NSs mention the purse/bag. Jiulin refers to it as “钱包 (wallet)”. AnnaLi and NS2 both refer to it as “包 (bag)” while NS1 uses “书包 (bookbag)”. All of them use modifiers such as “老人的 (the old person’s)”, “这个老奶奶的 (this grandma’s)” to clearly signify whose bag it is.

2. Both learners’ written versions of the event are much shorter than their oral ones. Jiulin misspells some characters (e.g., “理” for “里”, “句” for “包”) and AnnaLi uses Pinyin for some. Both pronounce these same words correctly in the oral versions. It appears writing in characters is relatively more challenging for them than speaking Mandarin Chinese. They may know to speak some words but may not know how to write them. It is interesting that Jiulin uses a different verb, “提 (to carry)”for action 1 in his written version, perhaps because he does not know how to write the verb “拿 (take)”.


Referents

Linguistic expressions

Jiulin

AnnaLi

Child (character)

女儿

她[那个女儿]

Shelf (location 1)

Taking (action 1)

Bottle (object 1)

 些休啤酒*

dōng西

Put (action 2)

(在…理*)放

放在…里

Bottle (object 2)

一休

Purse/bag (location 2)

(老人的)钱句*

(老人的)bao

 

 

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