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Volume 17

Interaction, Foreign Language Production and Development

Eva Alcón

This study investigates the influence of interaction on foreign language production and development. In the last decade research has focused on the way in which nonnative speakers interact with native speakers and other non­native speakers, but little is known about the effect of conversational interac­tion on the development of a foreign language. The present study was under­taken to determine whether native speakers’ signals of incomprehension—clarification questions, comprehension and confirmation checks—influence nonnative learners' output and their effect on language development. Fourteen Spanish women were audio taped performing two communication tasks in three different periods of time. Outcomes of the study shed light on the role that different tasks play in regulating the amount of learner interaction. Interactional modifi­cations also correlate with learner awareness of linguistic difficulties. However, the relationship between interaction and language development is not linear.

 

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The Role of Intersentential Connectives in Complex Narrative Discourse: Katherine Mansfield’s “The Garden Party”

Pilar Alonso 

This paper explores the role of intersentential connectives in complex narrative discourse so as to investigate the applicability of recent findings in the literature to more complex data than that usually found in theoretical studies of the phenomenon. For this purpose the function of connectives in Katherine Mansfield’s short story “The Garden Party” will be analysed, concentrating mainly on the intersentential connectives AND and BUT which are unusually salient and recurrent throughout the text. The analysis shows that both connectives provide a means of attaining local and global cohesion, and, most important, they efficiently serve as explicit signals for the development and construction of all participants’ mental representations of the story.

 

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Shortcircuiting Death: The Ending of Changing Places and the Death of the Novel

Bárbara Arizti

According to Peter Brooks we read moved by our desire for the end, for the recognition which is the moment of the death of the reader in the text, and a substitue for our desire for death and dissolution. The experimental “non-ending” of David Lodge’s Changing Places frustrates our expectations by putting an end to the reading activity, but not to our desire for the end. The present paper focuses on the implications of Lodge’s decision to end his novel unexpectedly in the light of the ambiguous relationship between realism and postmodernism.

 

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A Romantic Vision of Millenarian Disease: Placing and Displacing Death in Mary Shelley’s The Last Man

Antonio Ballesteros

This article deals with Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s The Last Man (1826), a dystopian and pessimistic narrative which focuses on the representation of death from a millenarian and apocalyptic perspective. Death is symbolized in the novel by a mysterious plague which both factually and metaphorically menaces mankind with (almost) complete extermination. The study centres itself upon the literary and ideological consequences of the plague in the anachronistically Romantic context depicted by Shelley and on the connections with our fin de siècle and millenarian situation at the turn of a new century.

 

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New Multiple Choice Formats: The Omission Item

Hanspeter Bauer and Helmut Bonheim

The omission item in a multiple choice test consists of a text in which four or five words or phrases are marked, only one of which is essential to the grammatical, syntactic or logical coherence of the text. Such items have a number of advantages: they allow authentic language materials to be used; a wide range of facility indices can be achieved, including those required for advanced and sophisticated learners of English as a foreign language as well as native speakers; the discrimination indices are unusually high, which suggests that the item taps layers of ability in understanding difficult texts. The format allows a number of variations: the key can be defined as the string which is essential, but also the string which is disposable (mere verbiage or deadwood). Half a dozen examples of these types is presented, together with the results of a factor analysis based on trials involving up to 500 candidates.

 

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“The Genteel Tradition in American Philosophy” as a Valedictory Indictment of the United States

Juan José Cruz

This article aims to point out some intellectual and cultural elements that constructed Santayana’s most famous lecture and phrase. Written in the aftermath of the events that transformed the United States in the turn of the century, “The Genteel Tradition in American Philosophy” is more than an elaborate literary critique. It contains Santayana’s objections to authors whose canonized aesthetics had provided ethical alibi for two defining features of the United States in those years: social injustice at home and a foreign policy based on the right of might. This helps us explain Santayana’s decision to leave America not just as the pose of a aesthetician; rather, it foresees the discontent that the American intelligentsia would widely express the following decade. Finally, some comment is offered on the limitations of “The Genteel Tradition” as a tract; our 80-year hindsight permits us assess the shortcomings of early twentieth-century liberal formulas to overcome the evils bred by nineteenth-century capitalism.

 

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Nivel narrativo, status, persona y tipología de las narraciones

José ángel García

This paper is an interpretation and a critique of the narratological concepts of narrative level and narrative person as defined by Genette, Bal and other theorists. These concepts are placed on a firmer ground by relating them to a wider semiotic theory, especially to the theory of enunciation. The structure of narrative relies on the enunciative construction of textual subjects and on the story’s ability to convey multiple enunciations which can be used to motivate its discursive structure. Some of the main narrative positions (first-person narration, witness narration, reliable and unreliable authorial narration) are examined from this perspective. The concept of metalepsis or frame-break is also redefined.

 

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Theme: Topic or Discourse Framework?

María A. Gómez

Halliday's notion of (Topical) Theme has been questioned by Huddleston  and Downing, inter alia.  Their criticism focuses on the idea that the first element in an English clause, Halliday’s (Topical) Theme, does not always identify “what the clause is about.”  This debate rests on three different interpretations of thematic/topical “aboutness.” Whereas Halliday understands “aboutness” in a relational sense, Huddleston and Downing support an interactive referential and a contextual referential interpretation, respectively.  Section 1 outlines the points involved in three accounts.  Section 2 expands Downing's and Huddleston's views, which section 3 tries to reconcile with a relational interpretation of the ‘aboutness’ feature of Halliday’s (Topical) Theme.  Section 4 comprises the main conclusion drawn therefrom, namely that Halliday’s (Topical) Theme and Huddleston’s and Downing’s Topic invoke different functions, which may, but need not, be conflated or “mapped” onto one another.

 

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The Denotative-Referential Dimension of Lexical Items

Benilde Graña

This paper defends the hypothesis that, along with the notion of Argument Structure, which encodes the lexical-conceptual properties of lexical predicates (i.e. the idea that the verb eat, for instance, takes two arguments, an Agent—the eater—and a Theme—the thing that is eaten—as shown in Peter ate the pizza), there is a second dimension to the meaning of lexical items. This level, which we call Denotative-Referential Structure, is concerned with the way words are embedded in the larger syntactic context (i.e. the phrase) that contains them, and are referentially constrained within that context. It is argued that this dimension must be kept separate from Argument Structure both technically and conceptually. The general theoretical framework is that of Generative Grammar and more specifically the set of assumptions that constitute Government and Binding Theory.

 

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“Bueno, hasta luego”: El uso de bueno en conversaciones

Carmen Gregori

This paper presents a possible approach to the analysis and use of the Spanish discourse marker bueno in everyday conversation. The analysis is part (and at the same time a result) of a project in which the functions of bueno are compared to those of well in English conversations. In this project English and Spanish discourse markers are being compared in order to find similarities and differences between their function and use in conversation. In this paper we do not try to reach definitive conclusions since the corpus needs to be extended and it is necessary to elaborate a framework in order to classify every occurrence of the different markers in a systematic way.

 

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Frequency and Variability in Errors in the Use of English Prepositions

Rosa Jiménez

The purpose of this study is: a) to determine the frequency of preposition errors in a descriptive composition written by Spanish secondary students; b) to prove the systematicity of these errors in students from different state secondary schools; c) to carry out a tentative qualitative analysis of the variability of prepositional errors in terms of their formal classification, and in terms of the linguistic contexts in which they occur. Although percentages differ from one school to another, the results show that preposition errors are the most common of all errors. Results also show considerable difference in the frequency of error types: substitution errors are far more common than omission or addition errors. We have also obtained evidence that preposition errors seldom appear in linguistic contexts such as preceding non-finite -ing clauses and stranded-preposition constructions including wh-questions and zero-relative clauses.

 

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The Making and Unmaking of a Colonial Subject: Othello

Ana María Manzanas

Taking as a starting point the fact that Othello’s colour is politically and ideologically relevant in the development of the play, this article offers a reading of Othello as a tragedy of race. The article reviews key texts where the stereotype of the black man as a “pagan conjurer” of beastly living and monstrous sexuality crystallized, and traces the presence of the stereotype throughout the play. Othello’s condition as a black man—whatever shade of blackness he was—is further complicated by his condition as a colonial subject who wishes to adopt western culture. The play dramatizes the apparently unlimited possibilities of self-fashioning available to man in the Renaissance, only to deconstruct this optimistic self-fashioning or self-creation when race issues come into play. It is Iago’s exploitation of the politics of colour and of Othello’s double nature (proper to a colonial subject) that brings about Othello’s downfall.

 

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Durrell Writing about Writers Writing: Towards a Spatial Definition of the Avignon Quintet

Ramón Plo

The aim of this paper is to analyze the reciprocal influence between Lawrence Durrell and the fictional writers he creates in The Avignon Quintet . In order to explore this blurring of boundaries between fiction and reality, I reflect on the confluence of two opposite forces at work in these novels: the Quintet both acknowledges its own status as fiction and gradually increases the feeling of proximity to a random, ineffable reality. Throughout this paper, I shall also try to interpret the shape of the quincunx and its three-dimensional development—the pyramid—as the narrative architecture where these two antagonistic ideas are condensed into a single process of creation.

 

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Essex, Bacon, and Discipline

José María Rodríguez

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was the first English philosopher to envision and theorize a thorough reform of the institutions of learning according to a utilitarian design. During the years 1592-1601, Bacon served as secretary to the second Lord of Essex, Robert Devereux, to whom he also acted as ghost writer and mentor. In this paper I compare the disciplinary strategies that Bacon devises for, respectively, the statesman and the scientist. This comparison was prompted by Bacon's use of the phrases "blessed physician" and "waking censor" to characterize his relationship to Essex, and of "the human medicine of the Mind" to characterize the preliminary preparation of the scientist's psyche.

 

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Review:

Susana Onega and José Angel García Landa, eds.
Narratology: An Introduction.
London and New York: Longman, 1996. 324 p.

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