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Animacy affects the processing of subject-object ambiguities in the second language: Evidence from self-paced reading with German second language learners of Dutch

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JournalApplied Psycholinguistics
DatePublished - Oct 2010
Issue number04
Volume31
Number of pages21
Pages (from-to)671-691
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The results of a self-paced reading study with German second language (L2) learners of Dutch showed that noun animacy affected the learners' on-line commitments when comprehending relative clauses in their L2. Earlier research has found that German L2 learners of Dutch do not show an on-line preference for subject–object word order in temporarily ambiguous relative clauses when no disambiguating material is available prior to the auxiliary verb. We investigated whether manipulating the animacy of the ambiguous noun phrases would push the learners to make an on-line commitment to either a subject- or object-first analysis. Results showed they performed like Dutch native speakers in that their reading times reflected an interaction between topichood and animacy in the on-line assignment of grammatical roles.

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