The comprehension of English Garden-path sentences by Mandarin and Korean learners of English as a second language


The present study investigated the relative contributions of verb bias and plausibility in sentence processing in native English speakers and L2 learners. Ten direct-object-biased and ten sentential-complement-biased verbs were used in Experiment 1 to construct 80 items containing embedded clauses in ambiguous and unambiguous versions. Verb bias and complementizer cues were each sufficient for native speakers for disambiguation, but both had to be present for L1-Mandarin learners. Both higher and lower proficiency L1-Mandarin learners could use verb bias cues but only higher proficiency L1-Korean learners could do so (Lee, Lu, & Garnsey, 2013), suggesting that L1 word order (Mandarin SVO; Korean SOV) influences how quickly L2 learners learn word-order-dependent cues about L2 structures. Experiment 2 showed that neither native speakers nor L2 learners (L1-Mandarin & L1-Korean) used plausibility cues, replicating previous findings in English and challenging the claim that L2 learners rely primarily on lexical-semantic cues during on-line sentence processing.

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