The effects of information structure in the processing of word order variation in the second language

Priscila López-Beltrán, Michael A. Johns, Paola E. Dussias, Cristóbal Lozano, Alfonso Palma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Traditionally, it has been claimed that the non-canonical word order of passives makes them inherently more difficult to comprehend than their canonical active counterparts both in the first (L1) and second language (L2). However, growing evidence suggests that non-canonical word orders are not inherently more difficult to process than canonical counterparts when presented with discourse contexts that license their information structure constraints. In an eye-tracking experiment, we investigated the effect of information structure on the online processing of active and passive constructions and whether this effect differed in monolinguals and L1-Spanish–L2-English speakers. In line with previous corpus studies, our results indicated that there was an interaction between word order and information structure according to which passive sentences were much more costly to process with new–given information structure patterns. Crucially, we failed to find evidence that the effect of information structure on word order constraints in comprehension differed between monolingual and L2 speakers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSecond Language Research
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language

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