Brown bag du 29/10/2018 Artur Stepanov


joint work with  Penka Stateva, Sara Andreetta, Adam Zawiszewski, Itziar Laka


How the lack of negative evidence affects processing of complex syntax by advanced second language learners

This study investigates the processing of long-distance syntactic dependencies by native speakers of L1 Slovenian who are advanced learners of L2 Italian, compared with monolingual Italian speakers. Using a self-paced reading task, we compare sensitivity of the advanced L2 learners to syntactic anomalies in two empirical domains of their L2: 1) syntactic “islands”; and 2) verb-clitic constructions. The nature of the positive input to the L2 learner is non-trivial in these domains: in the former, it is simply unavailable (aside from the converging characterization in their L1), and in the latter, the L2 input is structurally a subset of the learner’s L1 input. We find that although our advanced L2 learners show native-like processing patterns in the domain of syntactic “islands”, they may nevertheless perform non-native-like with respect to verb-clitic constructions, despite the early age of L2 acquisition. Implications for theories of L2 acquisition and learnability are discussed.