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ERIC Number: EJ872594
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Feb
Pages: 20
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0142-6001
A Subject-Object Asymmetry in the Comprehension of "wh"-Questions by Korean Learners of English
Lee, Jin-Hwa
Applied Linguistics, v31 n1 p136-155 Feb 2010
Previous studies on English as a second language (L2) argue for the relative ease of object "wh"-questions based on the finding that L2 learners are more accurate and faster in judging the grammaticality of object "wh"-questions than that of subject "wh"-questions in English. This article re-examines this claim by investigating L2 learners' comprehension of long-distance "wh"-questions at different stages of English acquisition. A total of 113 Korean-speaking learners of English with different years of English instruction participated in a picture-based comprehension task. Contrary to previous studies, the results of the present study point toward a strong preference for subject "wh"-questions to object "wh"-questions. The learners were more accurate and improved faster in subject "wh"-questions than in object "wh"-questions. In addition, they showed a strong tendency to interpret object "wh"-questions as subject "wh"-questions. These results are in line with distance-based accounts of processing complexity. Subject "wh"-questions are easier to process because the distance between the "wh"-word and the gap is shorter and therefore poses less burden on working memory in subject "wh"-questions than in object "wh"-questions.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A