One central question in research on spoken language communication concerns how speakers decide how explicit to make a referential expression. In the present paper, we address the debate between a discourse-based approach and a listener-based approach to the choice of referring expressions by testing second language (L2) learners of English on the production of English referential expressions, and comparing their performance to a group of monolingual speakers of English. In two experiments, we found that when native speakers of English use full noun phrases, the L2 speakers tend to choose a pronoun, even when the use of a pronoun leads to ambiguity. Our results show that the pattern observed is not the result of cross-linguistic interference from the L1. Furthermore, a clear dissociation is found between calculating the discourse information and taking the listener's perspective into account, supporting a listener's based approach to the choice of referring expressions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Language and Linguistics
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Linguistics and Language
- Cognitive Neuroscience