Principles of information organization in L2 use: Complex patterns of conceptual transfer


IRAL 51 (2013), 229–242 0019042X/2013/051-229 DOI 10.1515/iral-2013-0010 c ©Walter de Gruyter We will start the discussion of this special issue by placing the present domains of investigation within the broader context of the debate on languagespecificity in conceptualization processes. The debate has gained momentum in recent years, but central issues are still theoretically controversial and empirically inconsistent. The exact nature of the interrelation between language (in the sense of a specific language and specific linguistic structures) and the conceptual processes involved in language use is not clear. We can assume, on the basis of studies in this field and the focus on patterns of actual language usage, that the nature of this interrelation is highly dynamic in that it can differ across tasks, contexts, conditions and levels of complexity. The specific contribution of L2 studies to this debate is that it allows the comparison of processes of conceptualization which relate to the use of a specific language, to those of a different language, within an individual speaker. If cognitive processes during language tasks are somehow shaped by the categories of the respective mother tongue, speakers of a second language should – depending on the level of proficiency and the specific typological profile of the L1 (source language) and L2 (target language) – show divergent patterns from target standards with respect to the selection and organization of content for expression. Cook (1981) has already put the investigation of L2 users forward as a possible window on the language – cognition interrelation: “It would be highly useful if we could, so to speak, disengage the two processes of language and cognitive development and look at people whose level of thinking is out of step with their level of language (i.d second language learners)” (Cook 1981: 255; see also Bassetti and Cook 2011). When focusing on the dynamics of the interrelation between language and cognitive processing, it is useful to draw on a language productionmodel which spells out the different components and phases in the generation of a verbal representation of a given state of affairs. Levelt (1989) distinguishes three mod-

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@inproceedings{Flecken2013PrinciplesOI, title={Principles of information organization in L2 use: Complex patterns of conceptual transfer}, author={Monique Flecken and CHRISTIANE VON STUTTERHEIM and Mary Carroll and Christiane von Stutterheim}, year={2013} }