Automatic analysis of syntactic complexity in second language writing

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Abstract

We describe a computational system for automatic analysis of syntactic complexity in second language writing using fourteen different measures that have been explored or proposed in studies of second language development. The system takes a written language sample as input and produces fourteen indices of syntactic complexity of the sample based on these measures. The system is designed with advanced second language proficiency research in mind, and is therefore developed and evaluated using college-level second language writing data from the Written English Corpus of Chinese Learners (Wen et al. 2005). Experimental results show that the system achieves a very high reliability on unseen test data from the corpus. We illustrate how the system is used in an example application to investigate whether and to what extent each of these measures significantly differentiates between different proficiency levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)474-496
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Corpus Linguistics
Volume15
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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