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Academic Paper


Title: Processing reflexives in a second language: The timing of structural and discourse-level constraints
Author: Claudia Felser
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Universität Potsdam
Author: Ian Cunnings
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: University of Essex
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Psycholinguistics
Subject Language: English
German
Abstract: We report the results from two eye-movement monitoring experiments examining the processing of reflexive pronouns by proficient German-speaking learners of second language (L2) English. Our results show that the nonnative speakers initially tried to link English argument reflexives to a discourse-prominent but structurally inaccessible antecedent, thereby violating binding condition A. Our native speaker controls, in contrast, showed evidence of applying condition A immediately during processing. Together, our findings show that L2 learners’ initial focusing on a structurally inaccessible antecedent cannot be due to first language influence and is also independent of whether the inaccessible antecedent c-commands the reflexive. This suggests that unlike native speakers, nonnative speakers of English initially attempt to interpret reflexives through discourse-based coreference assignment rather than syntactic binding.

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This article appears IN Applied Psycholinguistics Vol. 33, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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