The article investigates the phenomena of Pragmatic Fossilization about the non-native speakers of English. The aim of the study is to assess the impact of pragmatic markers in speech of native and non-natives speakers of English. The study assessed these in children and adult of both the study groups.
The phenomenon of “Pragmatic Fossilization” happens in the non-native speakers of English during their learning process. It is defined as the “phenomena by which a non-native speaker systematically uses certain forms inappropriately at the pragmatic level of communication”. Put in simple terms, it is persistence of formal errors by the non-native speakers. The other types of fossilization are, phonological, morphological, syntactic, and semantic.
It is hypothesized that in the course of learning a foreign language, the learners follow a binary tract. This binary tract consist of, formal and pragmatic track. The formal tract is concerned with the grammatical and semantic rules that allow for competent use of a language. On the other hand, the pragmatic tract relates to the use of language in the social context. It has been observed that the native users of the language develop both these tracts simultaneously, and therefore develop a mutual relationship between both these tracts. On the other hand, the non-native speakers acquire these tracks through the formal instructions. Therefore, face difficulty in linking the pragmatic tract to the cognitive, affective, and socio-cultural meanings. It is this pragmatic competence which is difficult to implement in educational syllabus.
In theoretical terms, it can be inferred that the native speakers follow what is known as “function-to-form developmental process”: where the need to communicate precedes the development functional form of language. On the other hand, the non-native speakers follow the “form-to-function developmental process”, which is just the reverse. As a result, the adult non-native English speakers are likely to develop pragmatic fossilization.
The study compared the use of pragmatic markers in speech in both the natives and non-natives speakers of English. The study compared both the kinds of corpora so as to compare the development of the discourse markers in the speech of both the category of speakers. In this regard the study used the stratified random sampling methodology. It recruited both the native and non-native speakers from school and colleges.
As a measure of the statistical analysis, the researcher carried out ANOVA test for each marker under study. The idea was to determine if each of the independent variable had a significant effect on the dependent variable. They determined that there was a significant decline in the use of the marker “look” in adult conversation. This was the only element that the non-native speakers used as appropriately as the native speakers.
In the end the research shows that the native speakers increase their use of “involvement markers” as they grow up, whereas non-native speakers are unable to master this group of pragmatic elements. On the flip side, the non-native speakers are able to use the “operative markers” as efficiently as the native speakers. This may be due to the fact that the “operative markers” are related to interactions, whereas “involvement markers” are more concerned with the articulation of argumentative process: also the social and cognitive relationship between the speaker and the addressee.
As compared to the other study by , which describes the various kinds of fossilization, the study in question is very specific about its objectives. It focuses on just the pragmatic fossilization, and assesses its impact on the non-native speakers.
In conclusion, the topic of research is very credible and has a far reaching implication on teaching methodologies for English as a second language. It is more so in the context of the adult population. More significantly, it highlights the reasons behind the pragmatic fossilization, and the need to reach a language in context of the culture. It also carry-on forward the raison d’itre of language, which is to convey the right message.
In the end the article presents brief recommendations that; (a) there are different rates of development of grammatical and pragmatic aspects of language; (b) adult conversation requires competent use of involvement markers; and (c) if elements of pragmatic function are incorporated in curriculum, non-native children are able to pick as much as natives.
Trillo, J. R., 2002. The pragmatic fossilization of discourse markers in non-native speakers of English. Journal of Pragmatics, Volume 34, pp. 769 - 784.
Wei, X., 2008. Implication of IL Fossilization in Second Language Acquisition. English Language Teaching, 1(1).