Le développement des requêtes en langue étrangère: Comparaison entre le français L2, le finnois L1 et le français L1

Tuuli Holttinen

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph


This study examines requests in the L2 French of L1 speakers of Finnish and compares them to requests in L1 French and L1 Finnish. The main goal is to describe the development of request formulation from the beginner to advanced level of L2 French focusing especially on a) the developmental patterns, b) any influence of L1 Finnish on L2 French, and c) comparisons with the outcomes of previous studies.

The data include requests elicited via an oral Discourse Completion Test (DCT) and retrospective interviews. The informants (n=90) form five groups: beginner, intermediate, and advanced speakers of L2 French, and speakers of L1 French and L1 Finnish. The analyzed elements include request openers, strategy type (direct and indirect strategies), internal and external modifiers, request perspective, and forms of address. These aspects were analyzed using descriptive statistics and qualitative approaches. The retrospective interviews, providing metapragmatic information on the request formulations, were analyzed using content analysis.

The results show different developmental patterns in request formulation. While some aspects follow a linear or a non-linear development towards L1 French, others show a linear pattern away from L1-like use. Thus, the development of request formulation in L2 French appears as rather complex.

The influence of L1 Finnish was found in various aspects: request openers, external modifiers and some lexical modifiers are prone to L1 influence. In contrast to previous studies which showed an overuse of politeness markers, Finnish speakers of L2 French appear to struggle in acquiring s’il te/vous plaît despite its relative syntactical simplicity and pragmatic efficiency.

The study corroborates several previous findings in interlanguage pragmatics. At lower levels of acquisition, Finnish speakers of L2 French use more direct request strategies and fewer internal modifiers, as is common with L2 speakers of other languages as well. In addition, lexical modifiers seem to be acquired before morphosyntactic modifiers. The study also shows that these L2 speakers prefer to be “on the safe side” as regards clarity and politeness: advanced L2 speakers seem to overuse external modifiers, and Finnish speakers of L2 French generally exhibit more frequent use of greetings, nominal forms of address and the more formal V-form vous compared to L1 speakers of French.

Methodologically, the study highlights the importance of triangulation; that is, combining production data and metapragmatic information when examining pragmatic competence. As to pedagogical implications, the study highlights the importance of comparing the pragmalinguistics (i.e. different linguistic formulations and their pragmatic effects) between the L1 and the target language in L2 classrooms. In addition, sociopragmatics (i.e. the perception of language-external contextual factors) should not be neglected, as sociopragmatic competence seems to develop slower than pragmalinguistic competence.
Original languageFrench
Awarding Institution
  • University of Helsinki
  • Havu, Eva, Supervisor
  • Tuomarla, Ulla, Supervisor
  • Peterson, Elizabeth, Supervisor
Award date26 Nov 2020
Place of PublicationHelsinki
Print ISBNs978-951-51-6756-9
Electronic ISBNs978-951-51-6757-6
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2020
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)

Fields of Science

  • 6121 Languages

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