Topic‐Prominence in Interlanguage

Judith W. Fuller, Jeanette K. Gundel

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    33 Scopus citations


    This study investigates the role of topic‐comment structure in the acquisition of English as a second language by adults. Oral narratives, both native and interlanguage, from speakers of three highly topic‐prominent languages (Chinese, Japanese, and Korean) and three relatively less topic‐prominent languages (Arabic, Farsi, and Spanish) were analyzed. We found that 1) there were no differences in topic‐prominence in the English interlanguage narratives of speakers in the two groups and 2) the interlanguage narratives as a whole were more topic‐prominent than native English, and intermediate in topic‐prominence between topic‐prominent and non‐topic‐prominent native languages. These results support the hypothesis that second‐language acquisition is, in general, characterized by an early topic‐comment stage, independent of the learner's native language.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1-18
    Number of pages18
    JournalLanguage Learning
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Mar 1987


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