Volume 13, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1871-1340
  • E-ISSN: 1871-1375
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



Speaking a late-learned second language (L2) is supposed to yield more variable and less consistent output than speaking one’s first language (L1), particularly with respect to reliably adhering to grammatical morphology. The current study investigates both internal processes involved in encoding morphologically complex words – by recording event-related brain potentials (ERPs) during participants’ silent productions – and the corresponding overt output. We specifically examined compounds with plural or singular modifiers in English. Thirty-one advanced L2 speakers of English (L1: German) were compared to a control group of 20 L1 English speakers from an earlier study. We found an enhanced (right-frontal) negativity during (silent) morphological encoding for compounds produced from regular plural forms relative to compounds formed from irregular plurals, replicating the ERP effect obtained for the L1 group. The L2 speakers’ overt productions, however, were significantly less consistent than those of the L1 speakers on the same task. We suggest that L2 speakers employ the same mechanisms for morphological encoding as L1 speakers, but with less reliance on grammatical constraints than L1 speakers.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Alegre, M. A. , & Gordon, P.
    (1996) Red rats eater exposes recursion in children’s word formation. Cognition, 60, 65–82. 10.1016/0010‑0277(95)00703‑2
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0010-0277(95)00703-2 [Google Scholar]
  2. Allan, D.
    (2004) Oxford Placement Test 2: Test Pack. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Aronoff, M.
    (1976) Word formation in generative grammar. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Baayen, R. H. , Piepenbrock, R. , & van Rijn, H.
    (1993) The CELEX lexical data base on CD-ROM.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Barr, D. J.
    (2013) Random effects structure for testing interactions in linear mixed-effects models. Frontiers in Psychology4, 328. 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00328
    https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00328 [Google Scholar]
  6. Bates, D. , Maechler, M. , Bolker, B. , & Walker, S.
    (2015) Fitting linear mixed-effects models using lme4. Journal of Statistical Software, 67, 1–48. doi:  10.18637/jss.v067.i01
    https://doi.org/10.18637/jss.v067.i01 [Google Scholar]
  7. Berent, I. , & Pinker, S.
    (2007) The dislike of regular plurals in compounds: Phonological familiarity or morphological constraint?The Mental Lexicon, 2, 129–181. 10.1075/ml.2.2.03ber
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ml.2.2.03ber [Google Scholar]
  8. Blakemore, S.-J.
    (2012) Imaging brain development: the adolescent brain. Neuroimage, 61, 397–406. 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.11.080
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.11.080 [Google Scholar]
  9. Borer, H.
    (1988) On the morphological parallelism between compounds and constructs. In G. Booji & J. van Marle (Eds.), Yearbook of Morphology, 1 (pp.45–65). Dordrecht: Foris.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Budd, M.-J. , Paulmann, S. , Barry, C. , & Clahsen, H.
    (2013) Brain potentials during language production in children and adults: An ERP study of the English past tense. Brain and Language, 127, 345–355. 10.1016/j.bandl.2012.12.010
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bandl.2012.12.010 [Google Scholar]
  11. (2015) Producing morphologically complex words: An ERP study with children and adults. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 12, 51–60. 10.1016/j.dcn.2014.11.002
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcn.2014.11.002 [Google Scholar]
  12. Casey, B. , Tottenham, N. , Liston, C. , & Durston, S.
    (2005) Imaging the developing brain: what have we learned about cognitive development?Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9, 104–110. 10.1016/j.tics.2005.01.011
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2005.01.011 [Google Scholar]
  13. Clahsen, H.
    (1999) Lexical entries and rules of language: A multidisciplinary study of German inflection. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 22, 991–1013. 10.1017/S0140525X99002228
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X99002228 [Google Scholar]
  14. (2006) Dual-mechanism morphology. In K. Brown (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (Vol.4, pp1–5). Oxford: Elsevier. 10.1016/B0‑08‑044854‑2/04252‑8
    https://doi.org/10.1016/B0-08-044854-2/04252-8 [Google Scholar]
  15. (2008) Behavioral methods for investigating morphological and syntactic processing in children. In I. Sekerina , E. Fernández , & H. Clahsen , (Eds.), Developmental psycholinguistics: On-line methods in children’s language processing (pp.1–27). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing. 10.1075/lald.44.03cla
    https://doi.org/10.1075/lald.44.03cla [Google Scholar]
  16. Clahsen, H. , Gerth, S. , Heyer, V. , & Schott, E.
    (2015) Morphology constrains native and non-native word formation in different ways: Evidence from plurals inside compounds. The Mental Lexicon, 10, 53–87. 10.1075/ml.10.1.03cla
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ml.10.1.03cla [Google Scholar]
  17. Clahsen, H. , & Reifegerste, J.
    (2017) Morphological processing in old-age bilinguals. In M. Libben , T. Gollan , & G. Libben (Eds.), Bilingualism: A framework for understanding the mental lexicon (pp.217–247). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing. 10.1075/bpa.6.10cla
    https://doi.org/10.1075/bpa.6.10cla [Google Scholar]
  18. Council of Europe. Council for Cultural Co-operation. Education Committee. Modern Languages Division
    Council of Europe. Council for Cultural Co-operation. Education Committee. Modern Languages Division (2001) Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: learning, teaching, assessment. Cambrige, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Cunnings, I. , & Clahsen, H.
    (2007) The time-course of morphological constraints: Evidence from eye-movements during reading. Cognition, 104, 476–494. 10.1016/j.cognition.2006.07.010
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2006.07.010 [Google Scholar]
  20. Di Sciullo, A.-M. , & Williams, E.
    (1987) On the definition of word. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Festman, J. , & Clahsen, H.
    (2016) How Germans prepare for the English past tense: Silent production of inflected words during EEG. Applied Psycholinguistics, 37, 487–506. 10.1017/S0142716415000089
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0142716415000089 [Google Scholar]
  22. García Mayo, M. P.
    (2006) Synthetic compounding in the English interlanguage of Basque–Spanish bilinguals. International Journal of Multilingualism, 3, 231–257. 10.2167/ijm033.0
    https://doi.org/10.2167/ijm033.0 [Google Scholar]
  23. Goldrick, M. , Putnam, M. , & Schwarz, L.
    (2016) Coactivation in bilingual grammars: A computational account of code mixing. Bilingualism: Language & Cognition, 19, 857–876. 10.1017/S1366728915000802
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728915000802 [Google Scholar]
  24. Gordon, P.
    (1985) Level-ordering in lexical development. Cognition, 21, 73–93. 10.1016/0010‑0277(85)90046‑0
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0010-0277(85)90046-0 [Google Scholar]
  25. Haskell, T. R. , MacDonald, M. C. , & Seidenberg, M. S.
    (2003) Language learning and innateness: Some implications of compounds research. Cognitive Psychology, 47, 119–163. 10.1016/S0010‑0285(03)00007‑0
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0010-0285(03)00007-0 [Google Scholar]
  26. Holm, S.
    (1979) A simple sequentially rejective multiple test procedure. Scandinavian Journal of Statistics, 6, 65–70. Stable URL: www.jstor.org/stable/4615733
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Hopp, H.
    (2010) Ultimate attainment in L2 inflection: Performance similarities between non-native and native speakers. Lingua, 120, 901–931. 10.1016/j.lingua.2009.06.004
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lingua.2009.06.004 [Google Scholar]
  28. (2013) Grammatical gender in adult L2 acquisition: Relations between lexical and syntactic variability. Second Language Research, 29, 33–56. 10.1177/0267658312461803
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0267658312461803 [Google Scholar]
  29. Indefrey, P.
    (2011) The spatial and temporal signatures of word production components: A critical update. Frontiers in Psychology, 2, 255. 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00255
    https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00255 [Google Scholar]
  30. Indefrey, P. , & Levelt, W. J.
    (2004) The spatial and temporal signatures of word production components. Cognition, 92, 101–144. 10.1016/j.cognition.2002.06.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2002.06.001 [Google Scholar]
  31. Ionin, T. , & Wexler, K.
    (2002) Why is ‘is’ easier than ‘-s’?: Acquisition of tense/agreement morphology by child second language learners of English. Second Language Research, 18, 95–136. 10.1191/0267658302sr195oa
    https://doi.org/10.1191/0267658302sr195oa [Google Scholar]
  32. Jaensch, C. , Heyer, V. , Gordon, P. , & Clahsen, H.
    (2014) What plurals and compounds reveal about constraints in word formation. Language Acquisition, 21, 319–338. 10.1080/10489223.2014.892949
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10489223.2014.892949 [Google Scholar]
  33. Janssen, D. P. , Roelofs, A. , & Levelt, W. J.
    (2002) Inflectional frames in language production. Language and Cognitive Processes, 17, 209–236. 10.1080/01690960143000182
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01690960143000182 [Google Scholar]
  34. Kappenman, E. S. , & Luck, S.
    (2010) The effects of electrode impedance on data quality and statistical significance in ERP recordings. Psychopshysiology47, 888–904.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Kiparsky, P.
    (1982) From cyclic phonology to lexical phonology. In H. van der Hulst & N. Smith (Eds.), The structure of phonological representations, Part 1 (pp.131–75). Dordrecht: Foris.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Koester, D. , & Schiller, N. O.
    (2008) Morphological priming in overt language production: Electrophysiological evidence from Dutch. Neuroimage, 42, 1622–1630. 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2008.06.043
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2008.06.043 [Google Scholar]
  37. Lardiere, D.
    (1995) L2 acquisition of English synthetic compounding is not constrained by level-ordering (and neither, probably, is L1). Second Language Research, 11, 20–56. 10.1177/026765839501100102
    https://doi.org/10.1177/026765839501100102 [Google Scholar]
  38. Lawrence, M.
    (2016) ez: Easy analysis and visualization of factorial experiments. R package version4.2. https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=ez
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Legendre, G. , Miyata, Y. , & Smolensky, P.
    (1990) Harmonic grammar – A formal multi-level connectionist theory of linguistic well-formedness: Theoretical foundations. InProceedings of the 12th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, (pp.388–395). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Levelt, W. J. , Roelofs, A. , & Meyer, A. S.
    (1999) A theory of lexical access in speech production. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 22, 1–38. 10.1017/S0140525X99001776
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X99001776 [Google Scholar]
  41. Murphy, V. A.
    (2000) Compounding and the representation of L2 inflectional morphology. Language Learning, 50, 153–197. 10.1111/1467‑9922.00114
    https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9922.00114 [Google Scholar]
  42. Oyang, G. , Sommer, W. , Zhou, C. , Aristei, S. , Pinkpank, T. , & Rahman, R. A.
    (2016) Articulation artefacts during overt language production in Event-Related Brain Potentials: Description and correction. Brain topography, 29, 791–813. 10.1007/s10548‑016‑0515‑1
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s10548-016-0515-1 [Google Scholar]
  43. Pater, J.
    (2009) Weighted constraints in generative linguistics. Cognitive Science, 33, 999–1035. 10.1111/j.1551‑6709.2009.01047.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1551-6709.2009.01047.x [Google Scholar]
  44. Pinker, S. , & Ullman, M. T.
    (2002) The past and future of the past tense. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 6, 456–463. 10.1016/S1364‑6613(02)01990‑3
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S1364-6613(02)01990-3 [Google Scholar]
  45. Prado, E. L. , & Ullman, M. T.
    (2009): Can imageability help us draw the line between storage and composition?Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition35, 849–866. 10.1037/a0015286
    https://doi.org/10.1037/a0015286 [Google Scholar]
  46. R Core Team
    R Core Team (2017) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. URLhttps://www.R-project.org/
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Ramscar, M. , & Dye, M.
    (2011) Learning language from the input: Why innate constraints can’t explain noun compounding. Cognitive Psychology, 62, 1–40. 10.1016/j.cogpsych.2010.10.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cogpsych.2010.10.001 [Google Scholar]
  48. Runnqvist, E. , Strijkers, K. , Sadat, J. , & Costa, A.
    (2011) On the temporal and functional origin of L2 disadvantages in speech production: A critical review. Frontiers in Psychology, 2, 379. 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00379
    https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00379 [Google Scholar]
  49. Sahin, N. T. , Pinker, S. , Cash, S. S. , Schomer, D. , & Halgren, E.
    (2009) Sequential processing of lexical, grammatical, and phonological information within Broca’s area. Science, 326, 445–449. 10.1126/science.1174481
    https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1174481 [Google Scholar]
  50. Seidenberg, M. S. , MacDonald, M. C. , & Haskell, T. R.
    (2007) Semantics and phonology constrain compound formation. The Mental Lexicon, 2, 287–312. 10.1075/ml.2.3.02sei
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ml.2.3.02sei [Google Scholar]
  51. Silva, R. , Gerth, S. , & Clahsen, H.
    (2013) Morphological constraints in children’s spoken language comprehension: A visual world study of plurals inside compounds in English. Cognition, 129, 457–469. 10.1016/j.cognition.2013.08.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2013.08.003 [Google Scholar]
  52. Smolensky, P. , Goldrick, M. , & Mathis, D.
    (2014) Optimization and quantization in gradient symbol systems: A framework for integrating the continuous and the discrete in cognition. Cognitive Science, 38, 1102–1138. 10.1111/cogs.12047
    https://doi.org/10.1111/cogs.12047 [Google Scholar]
  53. Sonnenstuhl, I. & Huth, A.
    (2002) Processing and representation of German n-plurals. A dual mechanism approach. Brain & Language, 81, 276–290. 10.1006/brln.2001.2524
    https://doi.org/10.1006/brln.2001.2524 [Google Scholar]
  54. Veríssimo, J.
    (2016) Extending a Gradient Symbolic approach to the native versus non-native contrast: The case of plurals in compounds. Bilingualism: Language & Cognition, 19, 900–902. 10.1017/S1366728916000134
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728916000134 [Google Scholar]
  55. White, L.
    (2002) Morphological variability in endstate L2 grammars: The question of L1 influence. In A. Do , S. Fish , & B. Skarabela (Eds.), Proceedings of the 26th Boston University Conference on Language Development (pp.758–768). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  56. (2003) Second language acquisition and Universal Grammar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511815065
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511815065 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error