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Prediction and integration in native and second-language processing of elliptical structures*

  • EDITH KAAN (a1), JOSEPH KIRKHAM (a1) and FRANK WIJNEN (a2)
Abstract

According to recent views of L2-sentence processing, L2-speakers do not predict upcoming information to the same extent as do native speakers. To investigate L2-speakers’ predictive use and integration of syntactic information across clauses, we recorded event-related potentials (ERPs) from advanced L2-learners and native speakers while they read sentences in which the syntactic context did or did not allow noun-ellipsis (Lau, E., Stroud, C., Plesch, S., & Phillips, C. (2006). The role of structural prediction in rapid syntactic analysis. Brain and Language, 98, 74–88.) Both native and L2-speakers were sensitive to the context when integrating words after the potential ellipsis-site. However, native, but not L2-speakers, anticipated the ellipsis, as suggested by an ERP difference between elliptical and non-elliptical contexts preceding the potential ellipsis-site. In addition, L2-learners displayed a late frontal negativity for ungrammaticalities, suggesting differences in repair strategies or resources compared with native speakers.

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Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Edith Kaan Department of Linguistics University of Florida Box 115454 Gainesville, FL 32611 kaan@ufl.edu
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The authors would like to thank Natalia Davidson, Chelsea Guerra, Kyriaki Neophytou and Marpessa Rietbergen for their help making materials and running participants, Ellen Lau for letting us use her stimuli, and Iris Mulders and Sjef Pieters for technical assistance at the Utrecht site. This research was funded in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF 0957178), and a visiting scholars grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO 040.11.367) awarded to the first author.

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