Brown bag du 29/10/2018 Artur Stepanov

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

SALLE C

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.