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Academic Paper

Title: The Timing of Island Effects in Nonnative Sentence Processing
Author: Claudia Felser
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Universit├Ąt Potsdam
Author: Ian Cunnings
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Institution: University of Essex
Author: Claire Batterham
Institution: University of Essex
Author: Harald Clahsen
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Institution: Universit├Ąt Potsdam
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition
Subject Language: English
Abstract: Using the eye-movement monitoring technique in two reading comprehension experiments, this study investigated the timing of constraints on wh-dependencies (so-called island constraints) in first- and second-language (L1 and L2) sentence processing. The results show that both L1 and L2 speakers of English are sensitive to extraction islands during processing, suggesting that memory storage limitations affect L1 and L2 comprehenders in essentially the same way. Furthermore, these results show that the timing of island effects in L1 compared to L2 sentence comprehension is affected differently by the type of cue (semantic fit versus filled gaps) signaling whether dependency formation is possible at a potential gap site. Even though L1 English speakers showed immediate sensitivity to filled gaps but not to lack of semantic fit, proficient German-speaking learners of English as a L2 showed the opposite sensitivity pattern. This indicates that initial wh-dependency formation in L2 processing is based on semantic feature matching rather than being structurally mediated as in L1 comprehension.


This article appears IN Studies in Second Language Acquisition Vol. 34, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site .

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