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The on-line application of binding Principle A in English as a second language*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 August 2009

CLAUDIA FELSER*
Affiliation:
University of Essex
MIKAKO SATO
Affiliation:
University of Essex
NICHOLAS BERTENSHAW
Affiliation:
University of Essex
*
Address for correspondence: Claudia Felser, Department of Language and Linguistics, University of Essex, Colchester CO4 3SQ, UKfelsec@essex.ac.uk

Abstract

We report the results from two experiments investigating proficient Japanese-speaking learners' processing of reflexive object pronouns in English as a second language (L2). Experiment 1 used a timed grammaticality judgement task to assess learners' sensitivity to binding Principle A under processing pressure, and Experiment 2 investigated the time-course of reflexive anaphor resolution during L2 reading using the eye-movement monitoring technique. Taken together, our results show that despite having demonstrated native-like knowledge of reflexive binding in corresponding untimed tasks, the learners processed English reflexives differently from native speakers in that they took into consideration a matching discourse-prominent but binding-theoretically inappropriate antecedent when first encountering a reflexive. This suggests that unlike what has been reported in corresponding monolingual processing research (Sturt, 2003), initial antecedent search in L2 English is not constrained by binding Principle A.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2009

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Footnotes

*

The research reported here has been supported by a University of Essex Research Promotion Fund grant to C. Felser and by an ESRC postgraduate studentship to N. Bertenshaw. We also thank Harald Clahsen, the audience at the November 2007 Workshop on “Language Processing in First and Second Language Learners” at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, and four anonymous BLC reviewers for helpful comments and suggestions.

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