Disfluency Markers in L1 Attrition


  • The research reported here was supported by NWO grant 275-70-005 and an internationalization grant from The Young Academy of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (DJA–KNAW). We are grateful to Esther de Leeuw, Barbara Köpke, Chris McCully, Aneta Pavlenko, and the anonymous reviewers for their careful reading and critical comments on earlier versions. We feel that the article has been substantially improved as a result of these excellent suggestions. Any remaining errors and shortcomings are ours.

concerning this article should be addressed to Monika S. Schmid, English Department, University of Groningen, PO Box 716, 9700 AS Groningen, The Netherlands. Internet: m.s.schmid@rug.nl


Based on an analysis of the speech of long-term émigrés of German and Dutch origin, the present investigation discusses to what extent hesitation patterns in language attrition may be the result of the creation of an interlanguage system, on the one hand, or of language-internal attrition patterns on the other. We compare speech samples elicited by a film retelling task from German émigrés in Canada (n = 52) and the Netherlands (n = 50) and from Dutch émigrés in Canada (n = 45) to retellings produced by predominantly monolingual control groups in Germany (n = 53) and the Netherlands (n = 45). Findings show that the attriting groups overuse empty pauses, repetitions, and retractions, whereas the distribution of filled pauses appears to conform more closely to the second language norm. An investigation of the location at which disfluency markers appear within the sentence suggests that they are indicators of difficulties that the attriters experience largely in the context of lexical retrieval.