Online pronoun resolution in L2 discourse: L1 influence and general learner effects

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Abstract

This study investigates whether advanced second language (L2) learners of a nonnull subject language (Dutch) are influenced by their null subject first language (L1) (Turkish) in their offline and online resolution of subject pronouns in L2 discourse. To tease apart potential L1 effects from possible general L2 processing effects, we also tested a group of German L2 learners of Dutch who were predicted to perform like the native Dutch speakers. The two L2 groups differed in their offline interpretations of subject pronouns. The Turkish L2 learners exhibited a L1 influence, because approximately half the time they interpreted Dutch subject pronouns as they would overt pronouns in Turkish, whereas the German L2 learners performed like the Dutch controls, interpreting pronouns as coreferential with the current discourse topic. This L1 effect was not in evidence in eye-tracking data, however. Instead, the L2 learners patterned together, showing an online processing disadvantage when two potential antecedents for the pronoun were grammatically available in the discourse. This processing disadvantage was in evidence irrespective of the properties of the learners' L1 or their final interpretation of the pronoun. Therefore, the results of this study indicate both an effect of the L1 on the L2 in offline resolution and a general L2 processing effect in online subject pronoun resolution.

Details

Authors
External organisations
  • External Organization - Unknown
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics

Keywords

  • discourse, syntax, infromation structure, German, Turkish, Dutch, subject pronouns, sentence processing, second language acquisition, online processing
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-357
JournalStudies in Second Language Acquisition
Volume30
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Linguistics and Phonetics (015010003)

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