Issues in acquisition of non-temporal meanings of tenses in English by native speakers of Croatian

Skelac, Ines and Stanić, Ružica (2015) Issues in acquisition of non-temporal meanings of tenses in English by native speakers of Croatian. Journal of Foreign Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics, 2 (1).

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Native speakers of Croatian often have problems with appropriate usage of English tenses that do not exist in Croatian, frequently associating past forms in English with perfective meanings in Croatian and non-past forms with imperfective meanings (because Croatian has verb aspect). They also encounter difficulties with non-temporal uses of English tenses. Apart from the central meaning of tense as temporal reference, there are four non-temporal meanings of English tenses (Tyler, 2000): (1) emotional distance or intimacy; (2) the relative salience or status of the information being conveyed; (3) negative epistemic stance towards a particular scenario; (4) to express requests, commands and invitations. Although some non-temporal meanings are very similar to those in English, there are also significant differences that cause difficulties to native speakers of Croatian in learning English as L2. Some of the differences are caused by metaphorical and metonymical shifts in meaning between the source domain (time distance) and the target domain (distance between wish and reality, simulating of distance in order to avoid direct appeal, distance of the deictic centre, counterfactual possible situation, etc.). In order to examine those assumptions, 102 students – English learners – were tested. Differences mainly occurred in cases when the past tense is used in English to signal (1) a negative epistemic stance towards a particular scenario and (2) tense as an expression of attenuation: invitations, requests and suggestions, because Croatian speakers tended to use the present tense in some cases. We argue that a consistent description of non-temporal uses of tenses in Croatian and English, with analysis of differences, can facilitate the learning of these frequently occurring non-temporal uses of English tenses. Keywords: Croatian, English, meaning, second language acquisition, tenses

Item Type: Article
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PE English
P Language and Literature > PG Slavic, Baltic, Albanian languages and literature
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: J-FLTAL
Depositing User: Alma Milisic
Date Deposited: 25 Dec 2014 10:45
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2016 15:43

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