Using a self-paced reading task, this study examines whether second language (L2) learners are flexible enough to learn L2 parsing strategies that are not useful in their first language (L1). Native Korean-speaking learners of English were compared with native English speakers on resolving a temporary ambiguity about the relationship between a verb and the noun following it (e.g., The student read [that] the article.Â.Â.). Consistent with previous studies, native English reading times showed the usual interaction between the optional complementizer that and the particular verb's bias about the structures that can follow it. Lower proficiency L1-Korean learners of L2-English did not show a similar interaction, but higher proficiency learners did. Thus, despite native language word order differences (English: SVO; Korean: SOV) that determine the availability of verbs early enough in sentences to generate predictions about upcoming sentence structure, higher proficiency L1-Korean learners were able to learn to optimally combine verb bias and complementizer cues on-line during sentence comprehension just as native English speakers did, while lower proficiency learners had not yet learned to do so. Optimal interactive cue combination during L2 sentence comprehension can probably be achieved only after sufficient experience with the target language.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Language and Linguistics
- Linguistics and Language