Discourse-pragmatic conditions for Object topicalisation structures in early L2 Chinese

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    In this chapter, I explore the connection between language processing and discourse-pragmatic factors in the L2 acquisition of three (Mandarin) Chinese Object topicalisation structures. Processability Theory (Pienemann, 1998, 2005) and Information Structure Theory (Lambrecht, 1994) are employed to investigate when the required processing procedures are in place in the learners’ L2 Chinese, what facilitates the learners’ discourse-pragmatic interpretation of the communicative context such that among various structural possibilities, they choose the non-canonical Object topicalisation structures. Two longitudinal studies of 6 ab-initio L2 learners of Chinese in two learning environments were examined. The findings show three types of discourse contexts to be particularly conducive for the production of the Object topicalisation structures: (1) Question and Answer (Q&A) sequences; (2) the presence of a local inanimate topic (an inanimate NP being the sentence topic at a particular point of a conversation); and (3) the ‘disposal’ situation. The study enhances our understanding of the discourse-pragmatic conditions that motivate and trigger L2 structural choices under the general constraints of processability.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationWidening Contexts for Processability Theory: Theories and issues
    Editors Anke Lenzing, Howard Nicholas and Jana Roos
    Place of PublicationNetherlands
    PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
    ISBN (Print)978 90 272 0398 4
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


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