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Shallow processing: a consequence of bilingualism or second language learning?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 February 2006

Susanne E. Carroll
Affiliation:
Universität Potsdam

Extract

Clahsen and Felser (CF) review ground-breaking work comparing selected types of language processing in monolingual children and adults, on the one hand, and in monolingual first language (L1) adults and adult second language (L2) learners, on the other. They argue that children behave essentially like adults, but that adult L2 learners, even high-proficiency ones, do not. Thus, there is a principled difference to be made among types of learners; there is continuity of mechanism and process to be observed in monolingual development but L2 acquisition exhibits certain fundamental differences. In particular, L2 learners construct shallow syntactic structures (essentially failing to compute trace chains) when processing long-distance filler-gap dependencies. According to the shallow structure hypothesis (SSH), learners immediately interpret incoming words in a minimal semantic representation by assigning thematic roles to argument expressions and associating modifiers to their hosts. They are not mapping detailed and complete syntactic representations onto semantic representations.

Type
Commentaries
Copyright
© 2006 Cambridge University Press

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References

Carroll S. 2001. Input and evidence: The raw material of second language acquisition. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
Grosjean F. 1989. Neurolinguists beware! The bilingual is not two monolinguals in one person. Brain & Language, 36, 315.Google Scholar
Grosjean F. 1997. Processing mixed language: Issues, findings and models. In A. M. B. de Groot & J. F. Kroll (Eds.), Tutorials in bilingualism: Psycholinguistic perspectives (pp. 225254). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Meisel J. M. 2001. The simultaneous acquisition of two first languages: Early differentiation and subsequent development of grammars. In J. Cenoz & F. Genesee (Eds.), Trends in bilingual acquisition (pp. 1141). Amsterdam: Benjamins.
Townsend D. J., & Bever T. G. 2001. Sentence comprehension. The integration of habits and rules. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press/Bradford Books.

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