LINGUIST List 9.728

Sat May 16 1998

Qs: Semilingualism,ACRONYMS,Concordance,Competence

Editor for this issue: Brett Churchill <>

We'd like to remind readers that the responses to queries are usually best posted to the individual asking the question. That individual is then strongly encouraged to post a summary to the list. This policy was instituted to help control the huge volume of mail on LINGUIST; so we would appreciate your cooperating with it whenever it seems appropriate.


  1. Noriko Akiho-Toyoda, Question: semilingualism
  2. M. Adelaida Gil Martinez, ACRONYMS
  3. maren heydel, CONCORDANCE PROGRAM
  4. nc206, real language users

Message 1: Question: semilingualism

Date: Fri, 15 May 1998 09:52:27 +0100
From: Noriko Akiho-Toyoda <>
Subject: Question: semilingualism

Hi, I am a Japanese, studying for MA Applied Linguistics in London.
With the dissertation's deadline is now close at hand, it seems I am looking
for different reference every single day.
Could anybody please help me answering the questions as follow:

1) Child's L1 acquisition or SLA
I have heard and read that a child first states only facts, then they learn
to narrate in temporal sequence. And after that, around at the age of 5 to
9, he expresses in causal sequence.
If anybody know the actual article(s) or paper please let me know. (Could be
Slobin_DI and I searched for no luck) And your opinion is welcome as well.

2) Semilingualism
My supervisor, Prof.. Larry Selinker, told me that this term is not
politically correct. What is the most appropriate word, would you think?

3) One of the participants of my dissertation research shows that she could
express herself both in Japanese (L1) and English (L2) fluently. Seems a
balanced bilingual. But she does not understand once narrative gets
complicated (not in temporal order, abstract). I am looking for any related

4) To collect data, I used a silence film, giving her questions in both
language. If anybody knows the articles/paper mentioning a similar method
please let me know!

Thank you.

********** *****************************
This e-mail address accepts Japanese language
********** *****************************
Noriko Akiho
MA Applied Linguistics, Birkbeck College, London Univ..
19, 2 Greencroft Gardens, London NW6 3LR, UK
Tel:0171-624-3506 fax:0171-328-4854

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Message 2: ACRONYMS

Date: Fri, 15 May 1998 11:27:08 +0200 (MET DST)
From: M. Adelaida Gil Martinez <>


I am lookingo for a list of acronyms of common use in Spanish. Does
anybody know if there is any available?

I would appreciate your help. Thanks.

Adelaida Gil.
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Date: Fri, 15 May 1998 10:36:35 +0100 (GMT Daylight Time)
From: maren heydel <>

I am posting this question on behalf of a colleague who is 
not on the list, so please reply to her directly to the 
following address:

She is wants to know whether there are any concordance 
programs (or something similar) to help her to obtain some 
statistical measure of text difficulty/complexity for 
foreign language learners, ie number of words, number of 
different open-class words, clause structure. She has a 
number of short, untagged FRENCH texts that she would like 
to test. Many thanks.
- --------------------
maren heydel
University of Abertay Dundee
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Message 4: real language users

Date: Fri, 15 May 1998 14:36:40 +0100
From: nc206 <>
Subject: real language users

Dear linguists

I have just written up an experiment carried out to investigate the
conventional notion of linguistic competence (the abstract is appended to
this message). I am planning further experiments based on what I found. It
would be very useful for me to get some feedback on the first experiment,
especially from linguists, during this planning stage. If you are interested
in reading the experimental report and offering comments on any aspect of
the report, no matter how brief, please let me know and I will send you a
copy. Please also specify the format in which you prefer to view the
document and whether or not you would like me to summarise the responses. 

Thanks in advance,

Ngoni Chipere

- --------------

Abstract : Real Language Users

The idea of a perfectly competent but resource limited language user is the
basis of many psychological models of sentence comprehension. It is widely
assumed that linguistic competence is a) uniform; b) generative; c)
autonomous; d) automatic and e) constant. It is also believed that the
free expression of these properties is frustrated by limits in the
availability of computational resources. However, no firm experimental
evidence for the classical language user appears to exist. Negative evidence
for each assumption is reviewed here and the notion of resource limitations
is shown to be suspect. An experiment is reported which tested each of the
five assumptions underlying the conventional idea of linguistic competence. 
It was found that native speakers of English a) differed in grammatical
competence; b) often failed to display syntactic productivity; c) grossly
violated syntax in favour of plausibility; d) expended conscious effort to
comprehend some sentences and e) appeared to adapt to novel structures as
the experiment progressed. In line with previous studies, a relationship was
found between comprehension skill and formal education. A new finding is
that highly educated non-native speakers of English can outperform less
educated native speakers of English in comprehending grammatically
challenging English sentences. The results indicate that the classical
language user is an inaccurate model of real language users, who appear to
vary widely in grammatical skill. A number of specific questions for further
research are raised. 
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