This study examined relative clause processing in L2 Japanese using the self-paced reading method. Participants included 15 native speakers of Japanese, 16 intermediate Korean learners, and 16 intermediate English learners. Sentences included subject relatives, object relatives, and passive relatives. The dependent variables were reading times and response accuracies for comprehension questions. The results indicated that response accuracies did not vary significantly across relative clause types. However, the reading times showed that, for native speakers and Korean learners, object relatives were more difficult than subject relatives and passive relatives, while this difference was not significant for English learners. These findings suggested (1) the reading time results were in accord with the subject-object asymmetry, although response accuracy results were not, (2) the differences between Korean and English learners demonstrated transfer of L1 processing strategies to L2, and (3) the ease with which passive relatives were processed demonstrated the extent to which reliable local cues play a facilitative role in processing. Overall, both L1 and L2 speakers seemed to process sentences through incremental cue-based role assignment.
Selected Proceedings of the 2008 Second Language Research Forum: Exploring SLA Perspectives, Positions, and Practices
edited by Matthew T. Prior, Yukiko Watanabe, and Sang-Ki Lee
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