Communicative tasks across languages: Movie narratives in English, in English as a foreign language and in German

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In cooperation between the California State University, Long Beach and the Justus Liebig University, Giessen narratives were elicited from different groups of speakers (native speakers of English and native speakers of German who contributed either narratives in English or in their native language). The narratives were elicited with the help of a silent Charlie Chaplin movie in order to contrast how the different groups of speakers solve several narrative subtasks, i.e. the sequencing of narrative episodes with the appropriate choice of tense, the introduction of individual characters, and the reporting of characters’ thoughts and utterances. The results indicate that there are a number of subtle differences in how such tasks are solved in English and in German and that German speakers tend to adopt pragmatic strategies from their native language in spite of their generally excellent command of English.


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