Parsing to Learn
  • ISSN 1879-9264
  • E-ISSN: 1879-9272
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This study considers the role of lexical access in the activation and maintenance of referents interacting with syntactic computations during the online processing of wh-dependencies in second-language French by beginning (N = 39), low intermediate (N = 40), and high intermediate (N = 35) learners. Two computer-paced reading tasks involving concurrent picture classification were designed to investigate trace reactivation during sentence processing: The first task targeted sentences that contained indirect object relative clauses, whereas the second task involved indirect object cleft sentences. Response time profiles for sentences containing English-French cognates as antecedents were compared with those for sentences with noncognate vocabulary. All learner participants produced differing response patterns for cognate and noncognate items. Intermediate learners’ response patterns were consistent with trace reactivation for cognate items only; noncognate items induced inhibitions or erratic response patterns. Additionally, a (French-English bilingual) native speaker control group (N = 35) showed the predicted response pattern with the noncognate items only. These findings indicate that the role of lexical access in sentence processing merits further consideration.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): filler-gap dependencies; L2 French; lexical access; sentence processing
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