Gaps in second language sentence processing

Department of Language and Linguistics, University of Essex, Colchester, England, United Kingdom
Studies in Second Language Acquisition (Impact Factor: 1.11). 03/2005; 27(1):53-78. DOI: 10.1017/S0272263105050035

ABSTRACT Four groups of second language (L2) learners of English from different language backgrounds (Chinese, Japanese, German, and Greek) and a group of native speaker controls participated in an online reading time experiment with sentences involving long-distance whdependencies. Although the native speakers showed evidence of making use of intermediate syntactic gaps during processing, the L2 learners appeared to associate the fronted wh-phrase directly with its lexical subcategorizer, regardless of whether the subjacency constraint was operative in their native language. This finding is argued to support the hypothesis that nonnative comprehenders underuse syntactic information in L2 processing.

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