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The influence of L1 syntax on L2 processing Alice Foucart ESRC Centre for Research on Bilingualism, Bangor University – 7 th March 2011 L1 L2.

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Presentation on theme: "The influence of L1 syntax on L2 processing Alice Foucart ESRC Centre for Research on Bilingualism, Bangor University – 7 th March 2011 L1 L2."— Presentation transcript:

1 The influence of L1 syntax on L2 processing Alice Foucart ESRC Centre for Research on Bilingualism, Bangor University – 7 th March 2011 L1 L2

2 Outline: Part 1  Gender processing in L2: review  Experiments gender processing in L2 (ERPs and eye-tracking) Part 2  Agreement processing in L2 production: conceptual gender in possessive structures Conclusions

3 Grammatical gender English: the car French: la fem voiture fem Spanish: el masc coche masc German: das neu Auto neu

4 Research questions:  Is gender represented and processed in a similar manner in native and non-native speakers?  Is gender processing in L2 affected by the L1?

5 Gender processing in L1 Example:La fem / *le masc clef fem était dans la serrure The key was in the keyhole  P600 effect (syntactic integration) (Barber & Carreiras, 2005; Foucart & Frenck-Mestre, 2004; Gunter et al., 2000; Hagoort & Brown, 1999)  Sometimes preceded by a LAN (morpho-syntactic violations) (Barber & Carreiras, 2005; Gunter et al., 2000) =Gender is syntactically processed

6 Comprehension in L2: ERPs studies Difficulties in lexical-semantic integration Word category violations Morpho-syntactic violations Syntactic integration  Similar but with reduced amplitude and later peak latency (Ardal et al. 1990; Hahne & Friederici, 2001; Weber-Fox & Neville, 1996)  Sometimes found, and often with different topography (Hahne, Müller & Clahsen, 2006; Rossi et al., 2006; Weber-Fox & Neville, 1996)  Found in some studies, but not in other (Foucart & Frenck-Mestre, 2004; Hahne, 2001, but Hahne & Friederici, 2001; Weber-Fox & Neville, 1996). Semantic processing: similar ≠ Syntactic processing: Proficiency and AoA  L2 learning (Osterhout et al., 2006)

7 Syntactic processing in L2 - Different L1 and L2 processing Shallow structure hypothesis (Clahsen & Felser, 2006)  The syntactic analysis processed by late L2 speakers during language comprehension is not as ‘full’ as that processed by native speakers. - Similar L1 and L2 processing Three-phases model (Friederici, 2002; Rossi, Gugler, Friederici, Hahne, 2006 )  With enough exposure, highly proficient L2 learners can reach native-like processing levels even if they learned their L2 late in life.

8 Sabourin & Stowe’s (2008) study Participants: Dutch native speakers, German-Dutch and Romance-Dutch learners Materials: Determiner-noun gender agreement violation e.g. Het neu /*De com kleine kind com probeerde voor het eerst te lopen. The small child tried to walk for the first time Results: Dutch native speakers and German-Dutch learners→ P600 effect Romance-Dutch learners→ No effect Conclusions: Automatic gender processing in L2 not only depends on the presence of a grammatical gender system in the L1 but also requires overlapping of lexical gender. Sabourin, L., & Stowe, L A. (2008) Second language processing: When are L1 and L2 processed similarly. Second Language Research, 24 (3),

9 Foucart & Frenck-Mestre’s (2011) study Participants: French native speakers and German-French advanced learners Materials: Determiner-noun gender agreement violation e.g., Hier la fem /*le masc chaise fem était dans le salon; Yesterday the chair was in the living room Results: French native speakers and German-French advanced learners → P600 effect Conclusions: With enough exposure, proficient later learners can process gender in a native- like manner. Foucart, A. & Frenck-Mestre, C. (2011). Grammatical gender processing in L2: Electrophysiological evidence of the effect of L1 - L2 syntactic similarity. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, DOI: /S X

10 Tokowicz & MacWhinney’s (2005) study Participants: English-Spanish learners Materials: (a) tense-marking (similar in English and Spanish) e.g., Su abuela *cocinando/cocina muy bien His grandmother *cooking/cooks very well. (b) nominal number agreement (different in English and Spanish) e.g., *El/Los niños están jugando The boys are playing. (c) nominal gender agreement (unique to Spanish) e.g., Ellos fueron a *un masc /una fem fiesta fem They went to a party. Conclusions: - Online sensitivity to gender agreement in L2 learners despite the absence of grammatical gender in their L1. - Features that are not present in L1 should be acquired faster than those that are in conflict with L2 features. → P600 effect → No effect → P600 effect Tokowicz, N., & MacWhinney, B. (2005). Implicit and explicit measures of sensitivity to violations in second language grammar: An event related potential investigation. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 2, 173–204.

11 Gillon Dowens, Vergara, Barber, Carreiras’ (2009) study Participants: Spanish native speakers, English-Spanish late learners (+ 12 yrs exposure) Materials: Determiner-noun gender agreement violation e.g.,El masc /*la fem /*los plur suelo masc-sing está plano y bien acabado, The floor is flat and well-finished Noun-predicative adjective gender agreement violation e.g., El suelo masc-sing está plano masc /*plana fem /*planos plur y bien acabado Results: Determiner-noun gender agreement violation Similar pattern for native and non-native speakers → LAN + P600 effects Noun-predicative adjective gender agreement violation Native speakers → LAN + P600 effects; L2 speakers → P600 effect Conclusions: - With enough exposure, late L2 learners can reach native-like processing even when agreement involves features that do not exist in the learner’s L1. - Processing non-local agreement may be more demanding in L2 (working memory). Gillon-Dowens, M., Vergara, M., Barber, H. A., Carreiras, M. (2010). Morpho-syntactic processing in late L2 learners. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 22 (8), 1870–1887

12 Keating’s (2009) study Participants: Spanish native speakers, English-Spanish beginner, intermediate and advanced learners. Materials: (a)in the determiner phrase Una casa fem pequeña fem /* pequeño masc [cuesta mucho en San Francisco.], A small house costs a lot in San Francisco. (b) in the verbal phrase La casa fem [es bastante pequeña fem /*pequeño masc y necesita muchas reparaciones.] The house is quite small and needs a lot of repairs. (c) in a subordinate clause Una casa fem [VP cuesta menos [CP si [VP es pequeña fem /*pequeño masc y necesita reparaciones]]. A house costs less if it is small and needs repairs. Keating, G. D. (2009). Sensitivity to violations of gender agreement in native and nonnative Spanish: An eye-movement investigation. Language Learning, 59,

13 Results: (a) in the determiner phrase Beginner and Intermediate learners: → no effect. Native speakers and advanced learners→ longer fixation times for violations (b) in the verbal phrase L2 learners: → no effect. Native speakers → longer fixation times for violations (c) in a subordinate clause L2 learners: → no effect. Native speakers → longer fixation times for violations Conclusions: - High proficient late L2 learners can acquire new abstract grammatical features such as gender in their L2. - Processing non-local agreement may be more demanding in L2 because of the working memory cost. Keating’s (2009) study Keating, G. D. (2009). Sensitivity to violations of gender agreement in native and nonnative Spanish: An eye-movement investigation. Language Learning, 59,

14 L2 gender processing: Evidence from ERPs and eye-tracking studies - With enough exposure, late L2 learners can reach native-like processing even when agreement involves features that do not exist in the learner’s L1. (Foucart & Frenck-Mestre, 2011; Gillon Dowens et al., 2009; Keating, 2009; Tokowicz & MacWhinney, 2005) - Gender processing in L2 can only reach native-like level if the syntactic structures are similar in L1 and L2. (Sabourin & Haverkort, 2003; Sabourin & Stowe, 2008) - Features that are not present in L1 (e.g., gender for native English speakers) should be acquired faster than those that are in conflict with L2 features. (Gillon Dowens et al. 2010; Tokowicz & MacWhinney, 2005) - L2 learners may not be able to process gender as ‘fully’ as native speakers in non-local contexts (e.g., predicative adjectives) (Gillon Dowens et al., 2010; Keating, 2009)

15 Experiment 1: Method Foucart, A. & Frenck-Mestre, C. (under revision), JML. Participants (N=14): French native speakers English-French advanced learners German-French advanced learners Materials: 96 nouns, inanimate Same/different gender (French, la clef fem ; German, der Schlüssel masc ; the key) Electrodes (21 scalp sites): - Central, Fz, Cz, Pz - Frontal, central and posterior areas of the left hemisphere, Fp1, F3, F7, Fc5, C3, Cp5, T5, P3, O1 - of the right hemisphere, Fp2, F4, F8, Fc6, C4, Cp6, T6, P4, O2

16 Conditions: Correct En ce moment les pommes fem vertes fem sont de saison. Incorrect En ce moment les pommes fem verts masc * sont de saison. At the moment green apples are in season Experiment 1: Conditions Predictions: + ?  For French native speakers and the two L2 groups

17 Experiment 1: Results French native speakersEnglish-French bilinguals German-French bilinguals French native speakers: P600 effect  Gender syntactically processed English-French bilinguals: P600 effect German-French bilinguals: No effect  Gender syntactically processed ? New syntactic structure ? Plural agreement rule in L1

18 Experiment 2: Method and Predictions Predictions:  For French native speakers and English- French bilinguals  ? German-bilinguals Participants (N=14): Same as Experiment 1 Materials and procedure: Same as Experiment 1 Conditions Correct Souvent les / petites fem / pommes fem / sont/ bien/ sucrées. Incorrect Souvent les / petits masc */ pommes fem / sont/ bien/ sucrées. Usually small apples are very sweet

19 Experiment 2: Results French native speakersEnglish-French bilinguals German-French bilinguals French native speakers: P600 effect  Gender syntactically processed English-French bilinguals: N400 effect German-French bilinguals: No effect  Still acquiring gender agreement with pre-posed adjective X New syntactic structure  Plural agreement in L1

20 Experiments 3: Method and Predictions Predictions:  For French native speakers and English- French bilinguals  BUT no effect for German-bilinguals Participants (N=14): Same as Experiments 1 and 2 Materials and procedure: Same as Experiments 1 and 2 Conditions Correct En automne les /pommes fem / sont/ vertes fem / sur cet/ arbre. Incorrect En automne les /pommes fem / sont/ verts masc */ sur cet/ arbre. In autumn apples are green on this tree.

21 Experiment 3: Results French native speakersEnglish-French bilinguals German-French bilinguals French native speakers: P600 effect  Gender syntactically processed English-French bilinguals: No effect German-French bilinguals: No effect ? Gender agreement more complex when not in a local context

22 Experiments 4: Method and Predictions Predictions:  Longer fixation times for French native speakers  ? English-French bilinguals  BUT no effect for German- bilinguals Participants (N=14): Same as Experiments 3 Materials and procedure: Same as Experiments 3 Conditions R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Correct En automne les /pommes fem / sont/ vertes fem / sur cet/ arbre. Incorrect En automne les /pommes fem / sont/ verts masc */ sur cet/ arbre. In autumn apples are green on this tree.

23 Experiment 4: Results R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 En automne les /pommes fem / sont/ vertes fem -verts masc */ sur cet/ arbre. In autumn apples are green on this tree.  French native speakers: Longer reading times for incorrect agreement  English-French bilinguals: Same pattern as the native speakers  German-French bilinguals: No effect

24 Experiments 1-4: Conclusions  Is gender represented and processed in a similar manner in native and non-native speakers?  Late bilinguals can attain native-like processing (P600, reduced amplitude) HOWEVER:  Proficiency (N400, complex syntactic structure)  Non local processing seems to be more difficult (working memory).  Influence of the native language (gender vs. absence of gender)  Is gender processing in L2 affected by the L1?

25 Further research… in production Is processing of conceptual gender agreement as difficult as processing of grammatical gender agreement in L2 ? Does L1 syntax affects the processing of L2-English gender agreement?  Possessives adjectives/pronouns processing in L2 English

26 Possessives adjective agreement rules Possessive adjective agreement Agree with the possessor (waitress): English:The waitress chases her Fem / *his Masc son Greek: I servitora kiniga ton gio tis Fem / *tou Masc Agree with the possessee (son) Spanish:La camarera persigue a su Masc / *su Fem hijo French:La serveuse poursuit son Masc / *sa Fem fils 

27 Experiment 5: Method (Santesteban, Foucart, Pickering, Branigan, 2010) Participants: 12 English native speakers 24 Spanish-English bilinguals (AoA: 7.4; proficiency: 5.6 (self-rate: 1-low, 7-high)) 24 French-English bilinguals (AoA: 10.6; proficiency: 5.5) 24 Greek-English bilinguals (AoA: 9.1; proficiency: 5.9) Conditions: 2 (Possessor: masc vs. fem) x 2 (Possessee : masc vs. fem) Gender match The boxer chases his son (masc-masc) The waitress chases her daughter (fem-fem) Gender mismatch The boxer chases his daughter (masc-fem) The waitress chases her son (fem-masc) Materials: 32 experimental pictures (8 per condition) + 72 fillers Possessor characters: Masculine (e.g., boxer) vs. Feminine (e.g., waitress) Possessee characters: Masculine (e.g., son) vs. Feminine (e.g., daughter)

28 Agreement errors Similarly to number (Bock & Miller, 1991), the gender of a local noun can interfere with agreement process and result in gender agreement errors called ‘attraction errors’ (e.g., noun-adjective, Vigliocco & Franck, 1999; Franck et al., 2008; or antecedent- pronoun, Meyer & Bock, 1999) Number: e.g.,The picture of the postcards *are/is nice. Gender: e.g.,El reloj Masc de la ciudad Fem es *vieja Fem,/ viejo masc The clock of the town is old

29 Do L1 gender agreement rules affect conceptual gender agreement production of L2 possessive pronouns? If L2 processing is affected by the ‘weaker’ L2 syntactic representations of bilinguals, we expect no differences between bilingual groups. Hypotheses If L1 agreement rules affect L2 processing, we expect larger gender attraction effects for Spanish- and French-English bilinguals than for Greek- English bilinguals.

30 Experiment 5: Method (Santesteban, Foucart, Pickering, Branigan, 2010)

31 Experiment 5: Results (Santesteban, Foucart, Pickering, Branigan, 2010) Summary of attraction effects Errors  English monolinguals made no errors.  Only bilinguals showed gender attraction effects  Interestingly, similar attraction effects produced by all groups of bilinguals (no significant mismatch x group interaction)

32  L2 gender agreement errors during production of possessive adjective seems to be due to ‘weaker’ syntactic representations, not effects of L1 syntax Experiment 5: Conclusions (Santesteban, Foucart, Pickering, Branigan, 2010) HOWEVER, there was no linear intervention of the possessee attractor.

33 Possessives pronoun agreement rules Possessive pronoun agreement Agree with the possessor (waitress): English:The waitress says that the son is hers Fem / *his Masc Greek: I servitora lei oti o gios ine dikos tis Fem / *tou Masc Agree with the possessee (son) Spanish: La camarera dice que el hijo es suyo Masc / *suya Fem French: La serveuse dit que le fils est le sien Masc / *sienne Fem 

34 Experiment 6: Method (Santesteban, Foucart, Pickering, Branigan, 2010) Participants: 21 English native speakers 21 Spanish-English bilinguals (AoA: 9.8; English proficiency: 5.5) 21 French-English bilinguals (AoA: 11.5; English proficiency: 5.3) 21 Greek-English bilinguals (AoA: 7.6; English proficiency: 5.8) Materials, Conditions and Procedure: Similar as Experiment 1 Gender match The boxer says the son is his (masc-masc) The waitress says the daughter is hers (fem-fem) Gender mismatch The boxer says the daughter is his (masc-fem) The waitress says the son is hers (fem-masc)

35 Experiment 6: Method (Santesteban, Foucart, Pickering, Branigan, 2010)

36 Experiment 6: Results and Conclusions (Santesteban, Foucart, Pickering, Branigan, 2010) Errors  All groups showed gender attraction effects when the possessee attractor linearly intervened between the antecedent and the pronoun.  Importantly, Spanish/French-English bilinguals produced more errors, and showed larger gender attraction effects than Greek-English bilinguals and English monolinguals.  Similar attraction effects for Greek-English bilinguals and English monolinguals. Summary of attraction effects  Production of L2 possessive pronouns is affected by L1 syntax.

37  Processing of possessive structures is affected by the gender of the possessee - Native speakers: Gender attraction errors only occur with linear intervention of the possessee (however, this might only be a sentence complexity effect) - Bilingual speakers: Gender attraction errors occur independently of the position of the possessee in the sentence. Experiments 5 & 6: Conclusions (Santesteban, Foucart, Pickering, Branigan, 2010)  At least part of bilinguals’ gender agreement error production is due to ‘weaker’ syntactic representations.  However, L1 agreement rules that differ from L2 rules do also affect gender agreement processing in L2.

38 General conclusions  Is L2 processing influenced by L1 syntax? YES! (Foucart & Frenck-Mestre, 2011; Sabourin, 2003; Santesteban et al., 2010) HOWEVER: - Proficiency (Foucart, 2008; Osterhout et al., 2006; Santesteban et al., 2010) - Complexity of the structure (Gillon Dowens et al., 2010; Hahne, 2001; Keating, 2009 )

39 THANK YOU! English: the end French: la fem fin fem Spanish: el masc fin masc German: das neu Ende neu


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