Task-Related Variation in Tense Usage in Arabic-Hebrew Interlanguage

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Free, contextualized writing, characteristic of narrative and descriptive essays, was found to be an optimal task for tense managing, while cloze tests specifically devised for testing simple tense use and minimizing interference proved to be a stumbling block due to abrupt changes, minimal contextualizing, and minimal cues.

Within narrative, plotlines show the least deviation in tense use, as the simple narrative tenses of L2 and L1 are equivalent. Even beginners can sequence narrative events properly on a basic narrative plotline. Simple plotlines and simple sentences characterize the youngest writers, who tend to minimize evaluation and background details, thus preventing interference in tense use, characteristic of more adventurous writers.

Interference in tense use (as in other linguistic choices) is clearly characteristic of translations, especially of ‘low-level’ choices aiming at literal word-for-word equivalence. The extremely rich temporal system of Arabic folk literature highlights the deviation from L2 temporal norms in literal translation from Arabic. Temporal interference drops drastically in plot summaries and even more in expository style, where only a few cases of intra-sentential tense switching were found.

These preliminary findings show that the influence of task on tense use in Arabic-Hebrew interlanguage is significant, though not necessarily conforming to the predictions of L2 teachers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPerspectives on Language and Language Development
EditorsD.D. Ravid, H.BZ. Shyldkrot
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4020-7911-5
StatePublished - 2005


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