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  • Harald Clahsen (a1) and Claudia Felser (a1)


Since the Shallow Structure Hypothesis (SSH) was first put forward in 2006, it has inspired a growing body of research on grammatical processing in nonnative (L2) speakers. More than 10 years later, we think it is time for the SSH to be reconsidered in the light of new empirical findings and current theoretical assumptions about human language processing. The purpose of our critical commentary is twofold: to clarify some issues regarding the SSH and to sketch possible ways in which this hypothesis might be refined and improved to better account for L1 and L2 speakers’ performance patterns.


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*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Harald Clahsen, Potsdam Research Institute for Multilingualism, University of Potsdam, Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse 24-25, 14476 Potsdam, Germany. E-mail:


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Our work on this article has been supported by an Alexander-von-Humboldt Professorship to Harald Clahsen. We thank the SSLA editors and reviewers for their thoughtful and constructive comments on earlier versions of our manuscript.



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