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Referential context effects in L2 ambiguity resolution: Evidence from self-paced reading

Pan, Hui-Yu and Felser, Claudia (2011) 'Referential context effects in L2 ambiguity resolution: Evidence from self-paced reading.' Lingua, 121 (2). pp. 221-236. ISSN 00243841

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Abstract

This study investigates the degree to which referential context information influences structural ambiguity resolution preferences in non-native sentence comprehension, using both an off-line questionnaire and an on-line self-paced reading task. The critical target sentences contained prepositional phrases (PPs) modifying either the verb phrase (VP) or the preceding noun phrase (NP), as in Bill glanced at the customer with strong suspicion (with ripped jeans). These were embedded within short context paragraphs providing either one or two potential referents for the postverbal NP. The results showed that native Chinese-speaking learners of English and native English speakers were affected differently by referential information in the on-line task. The learners’ reading times of the critical PP were influenced significantly by the referential context, with VP-modifying items being read faster than NP-modifying ones in a VP-supporting context, and the reverse pattern seen in NP-supporting contexts. The native speakers’ ambiguity resolution preferences, on the other hand, were modulated by the referential context in the off-line task only. Our results indicate that non-native comprehenders are highly sensitive to extra-sentential discourse-level information during processing even at intermediate levels of proficiency, a finding that provides a challenge for ‘processing capacity limitation’ accounts for non-targetlike L2 performance.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sentence processing; Second language acquisition; Psycholinguistics; Ambiguity resolution; English
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Language and Linguistics, Department of
Depositing User: Admin
Date Deposited: 26 Aug 2011 15:23
Last Modified: 26 Aug 2011 15:23
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/321

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