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Native and non-native (L1-Mandarin) speakers of English differ in online use of verb-based cues about sentence structure

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 October 2018

ZHIYING QIAN*
Affiliation:
Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics, Florida State University
EUN-KYUNG LEE
Affiliation:
Department of English Language and Literature, Yonsei University
DORA HSIN-YI LU
Affiliation:
Department of Language and Creative Writing, National Taipei University of Education
SUSAN M. GARNSEY
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology
*
Address for correspondence: Zhiying Qian, Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306zqian@fsu.edu

Abstract

This study examined whether L1-Mandarin learners of L2-English use verb bias and complementizer cues to process temporarily ambiguous English sentences the same way native speakers do. SVO word order places verbs early in sentences in both languages, allowing the use of verb-based knowledge to anticipate what could follow. The two languages differ, however, in whether an optional complementizer signals embedded clauses. In a self-paced reading experiment, native English speakers and L1-Mandarin learners of L2-English read sentences containing temporary ambiguity about whether a noun was the direct object of the verb preceding it or the subject of an embedded clause. Native speakers replicated previous work showing an optimally efficient interactive pattern of cue use, while non-native learners showed additive effects of the two cues, consistent with predictions of the Competition Model about learning how to use multiple cues in a second language that sometimes agree and sometimes do not.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

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