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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: June 2012

12 - Grammaticality judgment tasks


Grammaticality judgments are a very popular task in attrition research. This chapter will look at different ways in which these tasks can be set up and used.

Grammaticality or acceptability judgment tasks (henceforth GJT) are among the most widely used instruments in research on language acquisition, bilingualism, second language learning and language attrition. As the name implies, such tasks present stimulus sentences to participants, inviting them to rate these as grammatically acceptable or unacceptable. Due to the popularity of the GJT it has been adapted and applied in a number of very different ways. This means that if you decide to use such a task, you have to be particularly careful with respect to the methodological choices you make. This does not only apply to the way in which you choose and construct your stimuli but even more importantly to how you present them, how you invite the judgments, and how you record and time responses.


The answer to the question of which grammatical features to incorporate in a judgment task depends, of course, on what you want to find out. If your research question is very specific as to the investigation of a particular feature (for example if you are looking at the attrition of Finnish case marking in an English-speaking environment), this choice will be relatively easy. If your approach is more inductive, deciding which grammatical structures you want to test can become complicated.