Vocabulary and genre: analysis in the variation of lexical correlates of linguistic proficiency through genre in French-speaking learners of Spanish
Rocío Cuberos Vicente (Universitat de Barcelona/UCLouvain)
In this seminar, I present the project “Vocabulary and genre: analysis in the variation of lexical correlates of linguistic proficiency through genre in French-speaking learners of Spanish”. This project examines university French-speaking learners of Spanish’s lexical complexity in two different genres: narrative and academic writing. Lexical complexity is defined by five dimensions that have been reported to indicate lexical proficiency in L2: diversity, density, sophistication, and the use of collocations and metaphors. Writing performance is operationalized by writing quality ratings evaluated by experienced L2 Spanish teachers. By comparing lexical complexity across narrative and academic genres, this project seeks to reveal lexical differences in writing performance that result from genre-specific language demands faced by learners. Two main questions drive this project. First, do L2 learners’ overall writing quality ratings and/or lexical features vary by genre? Second, which lexical features predict overall writing quality ratings within each genre? The ultimate goal of this project is to generate findings that would inform the design of pedagogical approaches that will be specially attuned to the needs of French-speaking learners of Spanish as they learn to participate in two prevalent discourse genres: narrative production and academic writing. Previous researched on characterizing lexical correlates of language proficiency and text quality in L1 and L2 Spanish (L1 = Chines, Arabic and Korean) conducted in the context of my PhD thesis provided a complex developmental framework for the use of these lexical measures in L1 and L2. In this seminar, I elaborate on these findings and point to directions that would need further investigation.
Tracking the uses of populism in media and political discourse
ARC TrUMPo (UCLouvain)
In this seminar, we present the methodological steps as well as some of the preliminary research results of our interdisciplinary research project TrUMPo “Discourse, populism and democracy: Tracking the uses of populism in media and political discourse”. The project was set out to analyze the uses, the meanings, and the circulation of the term populis* (i.e. populism and its derivatives) in the public debates in Belgium, France, and Spain. This comparative corpus-driven study examines Dutch, French, and Spanish data from 2019 from three forums: parliamentary arena, mass media, and social media (Twitter). In this study, we follow a mixed methods research design and a four-step analytical procedure: (i) automatic identification of every token of populis* in each forum during the selected period; (ii) determination of around ten peaks of occurrences of populis* for each case study in order to establish the discursive events that will be the object of an in-depth analysis; (iii) creation of an annotated database in which each occurrence of populis* is contextualized in its communicative process; (iv) qualitative analysis specific to each disciplinary approach. In addition, we discuss the process of coding of our data. We have adopted an inductive approach to coding our data and have reached the first research result, that is determining analytical categories for the annotation of our database. Finally, we report preliminary findings of the linguistic analysis of populism.
Revisiting simplification in corpus-based translation studies: Insights from readability research
Thomas François (UCLouvain) et Marie-Aude Lefer (UCLouvain)
Ever since the publication of Laviosa’s (1998a; 1998b) pioneering work, the study of lexico-syntactic simplification has held center stage in corpus translation research concerned with the typical features of translated texts. The simplification hypothesis states that translated texts are simpler than non-translated texts. The convergence hypothesis, also discussed by Laviosa (1998a; 1998b) but less so in follow-up studies, is that translated texts are more homogeneous than original texts, i.e. they display less variance. To date, simplification has mostly been operationalized in CBTS as type-token ratio, lexical density, core vocabulary coverage, list head coverage and average sentence length. Relying on these parameters, previous research has produced mixed results, with simplification varying across translation modalities, language pairs and registers. The present article sets out to revisit the simplification and convergence hypotheses through the lens of NLP-informed readability research. In particular, we rely on a larger set of simplification indicators and make use of multivariate statistical techniques. We present a simplification study of Europarl corpus data in French translated from English and in non-translated French. The results show that translated French is simpler than original French, lexically and syntactically. We also find evidence of convergence that shows that translators smooth out cross-speaker lexical heterogeneity in translated parliamentary proceedings.
Pleonastic constructions in German child (directed) speech
Sarah Faidt (Université de Basel)
The project aims at investigating the role of pleonastic constructions (e.g., ins Haus rein, auf dem Baum drauf) in the acquisition of spatial language in L1 German. Earlier research suggests a supporting function of pleonastic constructions in the development of spatial language (Bryant 2012) in that sense that they bridge the gap between syntactically simple particle constructions and more complex prepositional phrases. Although this construction type has been observed in previous language production studies (e.g., Harr 2012, Madlener et al. 2017), concrete figures regarding their actual frequency and development in natural language use are missing up to now. The project targets at filling this gap by analyzing longitudinal data from German child-adult interaction regarding the use of pleonastic constructions in terms of frequency of occurrence, functional and constructional features. The analysis is grounded in a Construction Grammar framework and a usage-based approach to language acquisition. Results may add deeper insights into how children master the challenging domain of spatial language in German as well as to an understanding of pleonastic constructions in a broader network of constructions.
Bryant, D. (2012). Lokalisierungsausdrücke im Erst- und Zweitspracherwerb. Typologische, ontogenetische und kognitionspsychologische Überlegungen zur Sprachförderung in DaZ. Baltmannsweiler: Schneider.
Harr, A.-K. (2012). Language-specific factors in First Language Acquisition. The Expression of Motion Events in French and German. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Madlener, K., Skoruppa, K. & Behrens, H. (2017). Gradual development of constructional complexity in German spatial language. Cognitive Linguistics 28 (4), 757–798, doi: 10.1515/cog-2016-0089.