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3.2. General principles in starting to speak the language


Two key features of real speech are that it is creative, and it is cooperative. When I say that speech is creative, I mean that people create the sentences they need as they need them. Many, if not most, of the sentences people utter are ones that they have never heard or uttered before and will never hear or utter again. Such creative speech is spontaneous and, it appears to the native speaker, usually effortless. Speech is cooperative in the sense that the speaker and hearer need to work together. The speaker doesn't speak in a way that will leave the hearer out in the cold. The speaker guesses at what the hearer already knows and bases what s/he says on that. The hearer may give verbal or nonverbal indications as to whether s/he understands the speaker. The hearer may ask for clarification or attempt to confirm that he or she has understood correctly. In the context of second language learning, this cooperative process is what I referred to above as the “negotiation of meaning”.

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Go to SIL home page This page is an extract from the LinguaLinks Library, Version 3.5, published on CD-ROM by SIL International, 1999. [Ordering information.]

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