Evidence of syntactic constraints in the processing of <i>wh</i>-movement

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Recent proposals have suggested that second language learners, unlike native speakers, are &#8216;shallow processors&#8217; in that they do not make use of abstract syntactic knowledge in parsing, relying instead on lexical semantic knowledge and pragmatic notions such as plausibility (Clahsen &amp; Felser, 2006a,b). The present study tested whether Najdi Arabic learners of English process whdependencies incrementally and whether they use knowledge of syntactic constraints in the processing of wh-movement. A group of advanced L2 learners (n = 40) as well as a control group of English native speakers (n = 40) participated in a self-paced reading study, which was based on Stowe (1986). The results of two experiments suggest that non-native processing is, like native processing, incremental and guided by syntactic constraints.


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