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ERIC Number: EJ1200588
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2019-Jan
Pages: 23
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0267-6583
Compressing Learner Language: An Information-Theoretic Measure of Complexity in SLA Production Data
Ehret, Katharina; Szmrecsanyi, Benedikt
Second Language Research, v35 n1 p23-45 Jan 2019
We present a proof-of-concept study that sketches the use of compression algorithms to assess Kolmogorov complexity, which is a text-based, quantitative, holistic, and global measure of structural surface redundancy. Kolmogorov complexity has been used to explore cross-linguistic complexity variation in linguistic typology research, but we are the first to apply it to naturalistic second language acquisition (SLA) data. We specifically investigate the relationship between the complexity of second language (L2) English essays and the amount of instruction the essay writers have received. Analysis shows that increased L2 instructional exposure predicts increased overall complexity and increased morphological complexity, but decreased syntactic complexity (defined here as less rigid word order). While the relationship between L2 instructional exposure and complexity is robust across a number of first language (L1) backgrounds, L1 background does predict overall complexity levels.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A