The present study examines how foreground and background is marked in L1 Russian and L1 German, to test the hypothesis that L1 speakers of Russian writing in German as L2 will use tense-switching to differentiate foreground and background. Results suggest that Russian-speaking writers used grammatical aspect while German-speaking writers employed inherent properties of the verbal predicate to mark foreground and background. The L2 data revealed a more mixed pattern: one third of the Russian-speaking L2 speakers of German used L1 Russian pattern, switching between different tenses to mark foreground and background; another third of the Russian-speaking L2 users of German were comparable to L1 German speakers; and a third group of the Russian-speaking L2 users of German wrote their texts in the present tense. These results indicate that switching between foreground and background, as a critical property of proficient narrative discourse, constitutes a long-lasting challenge in learning a second language.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 35-70
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.