Language and Speech Laboratory

The age factor and the acquisition of rhetorical aspects in a foreign language: events of motion

Aintzane Doiz, David Lasagabaster.

Rivista di Psicolinguistica Applicata      volume:1:2:33-50.

This paper is aimed at examining the effect of the age factor on the acquisition of the rhetorical style of English as a foreign language; in particular, the expression of motion events will be considered. This leads us to the distinction between Satellite-framed and Verb-framed languages (Slobin, 1991; Talmy, 1985). Bearing in mind this theoretical context, we hypothesized that the early learning of the foreign language would facilitate the acquisition of the rhetorical style of English. The participants were bilingual subjects in Basque and Spanish (Verb-framed languages) who were learning English (a Satellite-framed language) as an L3. The sample was made up of three different age groups, all of which had been learning English for 6 years and had therefore had the same amount of exposure. The results did not support our hypothesis, as the analysis of several aspects related to the rhetorical style of English showed that older students did better than their younger counterparts, despite the fact that the latter had started learning English at an earlier age.