Parsing to Learn
  • ISSN 1879-9264
  • E-ISSN: 1879-9272
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Lardiere (2009) hypothesizes that second-language (L2) grammar development involves the reassembly of features in the constraints of Universal Grammar. Feature reassembly assumes the domain-specific Agree operation, in which an (interpretable) feature on a probing node values an uninterpretable counterpart feature on a goal node, and spell-out computations, providing morphological expression to these nodes. Because features express class membership (e.g., feminine expressions), Hawkins and Casillas (2008) proposed that agreement in non-advanced L2 acquisition may involve co-occurrence between expressions, computed presumably according to feature compatibility (e.g., Shieber, 1986). These two types of agreement computations predict distinct processing profiles and grammar-processing relations. Results from a self-paced moving-window experiment targeting overt adjective agreement in superlative constructions revealed that L1-English L2-French/Spanish learners’ profiles appear more consistent with feature valuation. Form sensitivity lagged behind computational ability in low-proficiency learners, suggesting that L2 grammar acquisition is subserved by a universal parsing mechanism (e.g., Dekydtspotter, 2001; Schwartz, 1999).


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): agreement; features; gender; L2 French; L2 processing; L2 Spanish
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