ERIC Number: EJ777253
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2003-Dec
Reference Count: 0
Syntactic Ambiguity Resolution in L2 Learners: Some Effects of Bilinguality on L1 and L2 Processing Strategies
Dussias, Paola E.
Studies in Second Language Acquisition, v25 n4 p529-557 Dec 2003
This study investigates whether proficient second language (L2) speakers of Spanish and English use the same parsing strategies as monolinguals when reading temporarily ambiguous sentences containing a complex noun phrase followed by a relative clause, such as "Peter fell in love with the daughter of the psychologist who studied in California." Research with monolingual Spanish and English speakers (e.g., Cuetos & Mitchell, 1988) has suggested that, whereas English speakers show a bias to interpret the relative clause locally (i.e., to attach the relative clause to the noun immediately preceding it), Spanish speakers reading Spanish equivalents of English sentences attach the relative clause to the first noun in the complex noun phrase (i.e., nonlocal attachment). In this study, I assess whether speakers whose native language (L1) and L2 differ with respect to processing strategies were able to employ each strategy in the correct context. To this end, L1 Spanish-L2 English and L1 English-L2 Spanish speakers read ambiguous sentences in their L1 and L2. Data collection was carried out using a pencil-and-paper questionnaire and a self-paced reading task. Analyses of both sets of data revealed that both groups of speakers favored local over nonlocal attachment when reading in their L1 and L2. The results are discussed in the context of models that assume the existence of a fixed, universal set of parsing strategies. The implications of L2 parsing research for the field of SLA are also discussed.
Descriptors: Syntax, Nouns, Figurative Language, Monolingualism, Language Processing, Second Language Learning, Spanish, English (Second Language), Bilingualism, Phrase Structure, Questionnaires, Task Analysis, Reading Processes, Models, Language Research
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
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