Near-nativelike processing of contrastive focus in L2 French

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In this ERP study, native speakers and high- and low-proficiency L2 speakers of French were visually presented with instantiations of informational focus and contrastive focus. 14-channel electroencephalograms were recorded, and mean amplitude was calculated for windows 200–400 ms and 500–700 ms post-target word. For the processing of contrastive focus, native speakers showed a widespread increase in negativity compared to the processing of informational focus. High-proficiency L2 subjects also showed signs of increased negativity; low-proficiency L2 subjects did not. These results suggest the possibility of near-nativelike processing for high-proficiency L2 learners, but not for low-proficiency L2 learners; this finding is consistent with other recent ERP studies of L2 processing (e.g. Osterhout et al., 2006).


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