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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Mikela Zhezha-Thaumanavar
Doctor of Philosophy
Title: Social Networks, L2 Pragmatics, and Spanish Hasta as an Aspectual Marker with and without Negation: Student Understandings, Judgments, and Uses
Dr. Robert Vann, Chair
Dr. Holly Nibert
Dr. Pablo Pastrana Perez
Dr. Larissa Dugas
Dr. Magdalena Niewiadomska-Bugaj
Date: Monday, June 18, 2012 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
3025 Brown Hall
This dissertation investigates how social networks influence understandings, judgments, and uses of L2 pragmatics. The pragmatic target is the particle hasta ‘until’ as it is used orally and in writing to mark inception with and without negation in Spanish. This study examines how L2 students of Spanish understand, judge, and use hasta when they are members of social networks in university Spanish classes based on (a) pedagogy practice, (b) class level, and (c) mode of expression, and when, outside of university Spanish classes, they are integrated into social networks that involve exposure to different dialectal varieties of Spanish.
Data were collected from 72 students of Spanish at a Midwestern university. Statistical analysis revealed that (a) students’ attitudes towards L2 pragmatics are influenced by the linguistic norms propagated by their L2 instructors; (b) correlations are not always positive between class level and understandings, judgments, and uses of L2 pragmatics; (c) mode of expression affects only oral production of L2 pragmatics; and (d) outside the classroom, membership in social networks that expose individuals to particular Spanish dialects affects L2 pragmatics in speech and writing in opposite ways.
This study contributes to (1) Spanish pragmatics, by showing that (a) pragmatic change can be built on semantic and syntactic interaction, (b) NPI formation in Spanish can be affected by the scope of negation, and (c) aspectual markers in Spanish can derive from contextually-influenced verbal situations and may be dialect-specific; (2) Spanish sociolinguistics, by demonstrating that (a) there is value in using network analysis to study language variation and change in Spanish, (b) approaching Spanish L2 classrooms as social networks is worthwhile, and (c) social network analysis may provide a viable alternative or complement to SLA approaches in the study of L2 pragmatics in Spanish; and (3) Spanish L2 pedagogy, by highlighting (a) the didactic importance of influencing student ideologies toward L2 pragmatics, (b) that students might benefit from being introduced to L2 pragmatics at the beginning stages of their Spanish language study, and (c) the need for teachers of L2 Spanish to revise currently held expectations for appropriate student understandings, judgments, and uses of L2 pragmatic forms.