Evidence of syntactic constraints in the processing of <i>wh</i>-movement
Recent proposals have suggested that second language learners, unlike native speakers, are ‘shallow processors’ 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 & 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.