An investigation into the ability of South African students at Stellenbosch University to interpret implicatures in their second language English

Bester, Zaan (2012-12)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Due to increasing concern about the low levels of throughput at university level, and with an ever-growing awareness of the important role that students’ academic literacy plays in academic success, Stellenbosch University implemented language support courses in various faculties across the campus. In addition, the massification of higher education means that the demographic profile of the student population in university classrooms has changed, and lecturers are increasingly faced with students from a variety of multicultural contexts. It is within this context that a study was done to determine to what extent linguistic and cultural background affects a speaker’s ability to derive meaning from conversational and, by extension, academic implicatures in English. Previous studies have found that native speakers (NSs) and nonnative speakers (NNSs) of English infer different meanings when confronted with particular types of implicature and that NNSs tend to interpret certain types of implicature correctly more often than others. First-year students at Stellenbosch University with a variety of mother tongues were asked to complete a questionnaire containing various types of implicatures. Their responses indicated significant differences in the accuracy with which NSs and NNSs interpreted certain types of implicatures, and in the meanings they arrived at. The thesis considers possible reasons for these differences, and discusses the implications of the study’s results for academic literacy/language support courses offered at South African universities.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Te midde van toenemende kommer oor die lae deurvloeikoerse op universiteitsvlak, en ’n al groter bewustheid van die beduidende impak van studente se akademiese geletterdheid op akademiese sukses, het die Universiteit Stellenbosch taalondersteuningskursusse in verskeie fakulteite op kampus geïmplementeer. Daarbenewens het die massifikasie van tersiêre onderwys tot gevolg dat die demografiese profiel van die studentebevolking in universiteitsklaskamers verander het, en dosente kom toenemend in aanraking met studente vanuit diverse kulturele kontekste. Binne hierdie konteks is ’n studie onderneem om vas te stel in watter mate ’n spreker se vermoë om die betekenis van geïmpliseerde taalgebruik (in alledaagse gesprekke en by implikasie ook akademiese taal) te bepaal, deur taal en kulturele agtergrond beïnvloed word. Navorsing het getoon dat moedertaalsprekers en nie-moedertaalsprekers van Engels verskillende betekenisse toeken wanneer hulle met sekere tipes geïmpliseerde taalgebruik in aanraking kom, en dat nie-moedertaalsprekers sekere tipes geïmpliseerde taalgebruik meer dikwels korrek interpreteer as ander. Eerstejaarstudente aan die Universiteit Stellenbosch met ’n verskeidenheid moedertale is gevra om ’n vraelys met verskillende tipes geïmpliseerde taalgebruik te voltooi. Die response het getoon dat daar beduidende verskille is in die akkuraatheid waarmee moedertaalsprekers en nie-moedertaalsprekers sekere tipes geïmpliseerde taal interpreteer, en in die betekenisse wat hulle daaraan toeken. Die tesis bespreek moontlike redes vir hierdie verskille, sowel as die implikasies van die studie se resultate vir akademiese geletterdheids- /taalondersteuningskursusse wat by Suid-Afrikaanse universiteite aangebied word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/71635
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