Giudizi metalinguistici di accettabilità in italiano e norvegese. Aspetti dell’interpretazione della struttura argomentale in bambini di scuola primaria e preadolescenti di scuola secondaria

Authors

  • Oreste Floquet Sapienza Università di Roma
  • Pernille Thull Sapienza Università di Roma
  • Maria Antonietta Pinto Sapienza Università di Roma

Abstract

This study explores how children and preadolescents interpret a particular item of an Ac- ceptability task where a given verb, whose standard argument structure is intransitive, is presented both in the standard and the nonstandard use, as transitive. Two groups of sub- jects have been recruited, one in Italy (27 primary school children; mean age: 10, 7 years) and another in Norway (25 Junior High school preadolescents; mean age: 12, 6 years) and administered an acceptability task drawn from an Italian validated metalinguistic ability test, recently translated into Norwegian. In each context, the language in which the task has been administered was the children’s L1, as Italian or as Norwegian, respectively. Ourstudy focused on the above item as this particularly challenges the ability to judge the un- acceptability of the transitive form on purely linguistic grounds, and therefore is likely to illuminate how young, inexpert subjects process argument structures. The task assesses the performance at two levels of awareness: the first is epilinguistic, under the form of an in-tuitive, yes-or-no judgment, while the second is elicited by a request of justification of the previous response, and takes the form of a discursive, well-reasoned response, thus properly metalinguistic. Beyond language and age differences, the results of both groups were sur- prisingly similar. While nearly all subjects gave appropriate epilinguistic answers, statingthat the transitive form of the verb was unacceptable, the metalinguistic justifications of these answers were dominantly based on extralinguistic factors. The transitive use of the verb was deemed unacceptable because the action it describes cannot be implemented in the extralinguistic world, and not because it violates the structural intransitivity of the verb as such. However elementary these judgments can appear, they offer interesting insights into the lines of reasoning of young subjects on grammatical structures. As these reasonings have some consistency and plausibility on cognitive grounds, language teachers can usefully ex- ploit them in order to integrate cognitive categories related to the outer world into specific linguistic categories and to make them aware that each language codifies mappings between aspects of cognition and aspects of language in a particular manner.

Published

2021-12-27

How to Cite

Floquet, O., Thull, P., & Pinto, M. A. (2021). Giudizi metalinguistici di accettabilità in italiano e norvegese. Aspetti dell’interpretazione della struttura argomentale in bambini di scuola primaria e preadolescenti di scuola secondaria. Status Quaestionis, (21). Retrieved from https://rosa.uniroma1.it/rosa03/status_quaestionis/article/view/17686