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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Issues in Applied Linguistics

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ial is a refereed journal managed by scholars in the field of applied linguistics. Our aim is to publish outstanding research from faculty, independent researchers, and graduate students in the broad areas of second language acquisition, language socialization, language processing, language assessment, language pedagogy, language policy, making use of the following research methodologies (but not limited to): discourse analysis, conversation analysis, critical discourse analysis, critical race theory, and psychophysiology. ial publishes articles, book reviews, and interviews with notable scholars.


Writing Concepts in Chinese Writing Instruction

Since Kaplan hypothesized English writing as direct and Oriental writing as circular in 1966, much research has been done in contrastive rhetoric. However, few studies have compared English writing and Asian writing in its original text or compared rhetoric across cultures. In addition, what causes Asian students to write differently from English speakers remains an arguable issue. In response to this debate, the researcher focuses on how Chinese writing instruction can cause negative interference for Chinese ESL students' writing in English. One representative work in Chinese literary criticism and four texts in Chinese rhetoric are analyzed to determine how Chinese and English writing utilize different rhetorical forms even though they may share some common elements.

Specifically, this study shows that in Chinese writing the main idea can be more general, as a theme, or specific, as a thesis statement, and can come at the beginning or the end of a paper, although the end is preferred by most accomplished writers. In addition, a Chinese writer is expected to build the overall organization on word and sentence level structures and to use various indirect techniques to arouse the reader's interest in the aesthetics of a piece of writing. The writer does not have to state everything explicitly. Rather, the reader needs to share the writer's responsibility in creating a text by incorporating his or her own interpretation into the writing in Chinese rhetoric.

A Cross-Cultural Study of Indirectness

When compared to other ethnic groups, the Japanese are often said to communicate using indirect speech patterns. This characterization, however, is mostly based on casual observation and there have not been many empirical studies.

This study investigates whether or not the Japanese are more indirect than Americans in conversations between same status interlocutors and whether the use of indirectness is influenced by in-group and out-group distinctions for speech acts of requests and complaints, as determined by a questionnaire study.

The results of this study did not support the hypothesis that Japanese students are more indirect than American students in complaint and request situations. Americans tended to behave similarly in all situations studied, while Japanese responded and acted differently in different situations. However, Japanese students are not more indirect toward out-group members. These results suggest that Japanese may be more direct than assumed, at least when there is no apparent status difference. Although it may be true that Japanese traditionally value indirectness more than speakers of other languages, this does not mean that Japanese speakers are necessarily more indirect than others.

Developmental Sequences in Learning Japanese: A Look at Negation

Previous research has established that language learners follow developmental sequences in acquiring such features as tense, negation, and question formation in a second language (L2), and that these patterns are similar to those characteristic of children acquiring their first language (L1). These findings have been based almost exclusively on acquisition patterns in learners of English and other Indo-European languages; until recently, almost no L2 acquisition research existed on typologically dissimilar (i.e., non-Indo-European) languages. Thus, the question arises: Do learners of non-Indo-European languages also follow common routes in acquiring certain L2 features? To address this issue, the development of negation in L2 learners of Japanese was selected as the focus for the present study. Twelve subjects beginning their study of Japanese at the university level in the U.S. were recruited to determine how propositional negation emerged in their interlanguage. Subjects were interviewed bi-monthly over an academic year and oral production data examined to determine types of negation patterns used and predicate contexts in which they emerged. Analysis of data revealed several developmental patterns common to the learners: 1) from fewer to more negation patterns were used over time, and 2) an ordering effect was observed in terms of the predicate environment in which negation is acquired first (nominal and verb negation before adjective negation). Results expand our understanding of developmental sequences in L2 learning by establishing its occurrence in a non-Indo-European language. It also documents that L2 Japanese learners negative constructions are remarkably similar to those of L1 children. The present study, by providing insight into the acquisition of one feature in a non-Indo-European language, holds significance for second language theory as well as Japanese language pedagogy.

The Multiple Functions of Sumimasen

This study will provide a fuller account of the functions of sumimasen, one of the expressions used for both apology and thanks in everyday Japanese conversation. In order to accurately explain these functions, it is necessary to carefully observe the different socio-cultural contexts in which this expression occurs. Hence, a database consisting of ten hours of daily conversation was used as the foundation for the study, with these ten hours of talk yielding a total of 44 tokens of sumimasen. This study will also attempt to relate sumimasen to other strategies for expressing apology and gratitude in Japanese and to examine whether certain values of Japanese society may be reflected through the usage of this expression.

Socializing the Expression of Affect: An Overview of Affective Particle Use in the Japanese as a Foreign Language Classroom

This longitudinal study of teacher talk examines the use of effective particles in the language of the university-level elementary Japanese as a foreign language classroom. The classroom is viewed as a crucial language socializing space in which students are not only acquiring grammatical competence, but are also being socialized into particular norms of interaction in Japanese. The frequency and variety of affective particles are carefully calculated and compared with particle use in ordinary conversation. The results show that affective particles are used far less frequently in the classroom language analyzed than in ordinary conversation. Significant differences between teachers were also found. Qualitative analysis of classroom assessments reveals that teacher stance impacts the frequency of affective particle use, with teachers revealing their communicative orientation towards interaction with students through their affective particle use—the frequency of affective particle use increases when the teacher's focus is on the communicative content of the interaction rather than on grammatical form.

English and Japanese Demonstratives: A Contrastive Analysis of Second Language Acquisition

As seemingly simple and straightforward constructions, demonstratives are taught to foreign language learners at a rather early stage in their language instruction. For native speakers of Japanese, English "this" and "that" seem fairly easy to acquire, just as the Japanese demonstratives ko, so, and a seem like unproblematic constructions for native speakers of English. However, language teachers often find that even fairly advanced learners of Japanese or English have trouble with many of the less transparent issues surrounding demonstrative usage.

The present paper focuses on the demonstratives "this," "that," ko, so, and a and the peculiar problems that they pose for L2 students. We will show that in accordance with Strauss (1993a, 1993b) and Kinsui and Takubo (1990, 1992), instruction of demonstratives based on the traditional analysis of plus/minus proximity is inadequate. Data from intermediate and advanced L2 learners as well as from native speakers of each language are examined according to recent models (i.e., Strauss' focus schema and Kinsui and Takubo's domain theory of the speaker's experience/perception), which prove to be promising alternatives in teaching demonstratives to L2 learners of Japanese and English.

The Role of Questioning in Japanese Political Discourse

According to Nakajima (1989), Japanese political discussions are characterized by 'question-response' sequences which occupy considerable time, but display no clear resolution nor true dispute. The present study examines 'question-response' sequences in Japanese political discourse. In particular, the study addresses how questions (Qs) are used to control other interlocutors as well as the relationship between questions and conflict in Japanese political discourse. A panel discussion conducted among several panelists of Japanese politicians, economists, and professional moderators, was video-tape recorded from a Japanese television program and transcribed. Questions are identified and classified into several syntactic forms and the distribution of these question forms in the data is examined. The manner in which questions are posed and responded to is qualitatively and quantitatively analyzed in order to determine the degree of control exerted and their role as dispute markers. These analyses reveal that questions that possess greater ambiguity in terms of desired addressees' responses are preferred and strategically utilized along with suprasegmental features and non-linguistic devices in the Japanese political discussion under investigation. The study shows that the general tendency to avoid overt control and overt conflict is reflected in questioning strategies employed in the discourse, which may symbolize a characteristic type of Japanese-like argumentation.

English and Japanese: A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Parental Styles of Narrative Elicitation

To study culturally preferred narrative elicitation patterns, conversations between mothers and children from three different groups were analyzed: (1) Japanese-speaking mother-child pairs living in Japan, (2) Japanese-speaking mother-child pairs living in the U.S., and (3) English-speaking North American (Canadian) mother-child pairs. Study One, which compared mothers from the two different Japanese groups, suggests that Japanese mothers in the U.S. were more likely to prompt their children to extend the topic right after uttering huun ('well'). Study Two, which included the English-speaking mother-child pairs, yielded the following salient contrasts: (1) In comparison to English-speaking mothers, mothers of both Japanese groups gave proportionately less evaluation. (2) Both in terms of frequency and proportion, mothers of both Japanese groups gave more verbal acknowledgment than did English-speaking mothers. (3) However, Japanese mothers in the U.S. requested proportionately more description from their children than did Japanese mothers in Japan. At five years, Japanese-speaking children, whether living in Japan or the U.S., produced roughly 1.2 utterances per turn on average, whereas English-speaking children produced approximately 2.1 utterances per turn, a significant difference. Thus, while English-speaking mothers allow their children to take long monologic turns and give many evaluative comments, Japanese mothers, whether living in Japan or the U.S., simultaneously pay considerable attention to their children's narratives and facilitate frequent turn exchanges. The two studies reported in this paper thus suggest that these differences and similarities may be explained in terms of culture; that is, while inducting their children into a communicative style that is reflective of their native culture, Japanese mothers living in the U.S. are, at the same time, subject to the influence of Western culture. Implications of these findings are further considered in the light of improving cross-cultural understanding.