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Predictive language processing in late bilinguals

Vorausschauende Sprachverarbeitung bei späten Bilingualen

  • The current thesis examined how second language (L2) speakers of German predict upcoming input during language processing. Early research has shown that the predictive abilities of L2 speakers relative to L1 speakers are limited, resulting in the proposal of the Reduced Ability to Generate Expectations (RAGE) hypothesis. Considering that prediction is assumed to facilitate language processing in L1 speakers and probably plays a role in language learning, the assumption that L1/L2 differences can be explained in terms of different processing mechanisms is a particularly interesting approach. However, results from more recent studies on the predictive processing abilities of L2 speakers have indicated that the claim of the RAGE hypothesis is too broad and that prediction in L2 speakers could be selectively limited. In the current thesis, the RAGE hypothesis was systematically put to the test. In this thesis, German L1 and highly proficient late L2 learners of German with Russian as L1 were tested on their predictive use of one orThe current thesis examined how second language (L2) speakers of German predict upcoming input during language processing. Early research has shown that the predictive abilities of L2 speakers relative to L1 speakers are limited, resulting in the proposal of the Reduced Ability to Generate Expectations (RAGE) hypothesis. Considering that prediction is assumed to facilitate language processing in L1 speakers and probably plays a role in language learning, the assumption that L1/L2 differences can be explained in terms of different processing mechanisms is a particularly interesting approach. However, results from more recent studies on the predictive processing abilities of L2 speakers have indicated that the claim of the RAGE hypothesis is too broad and that prediction in L2 speakers could be selectively limited. In the current thesis, the RAGE hypothesis was systematically put to the test. In this thesis, German L1 and highly proficient late L2 learners of German with Russian as L1 were tested on their predictive use of one or more information sources that exist as cues to sentence interpretation in both languages, to test for selective limits. The results showed that, in line with previous findings, L2 speakers can use the lexical-semantics of verbs to predict the upcoming noun. Here the level of prediction was more systematically controlled for than in previous studies by using verbs that restrict the selection of upcoming nouns to the semantic category animate or inanimate. Hence, prediction in L2 processing is possible. At the same time, this experiment showed that the L2 group was slower/less certain than the L1 group. Unlike previous studies, the experiment on case marking demonstrated that L2 speakers can use this morphosyntactic cue for prediction. Here, the use of case marking was tested by manipulating the word order (Dat > Acc vs. Acc > Dat) in double object constructions after a ditransitive verb. Both the L1 and the L2 group showed a difference between the two word order conditions that emerged within the critical time window for an anticipatory effect, indicating their sensitivity towards case. However, the results for the post-critical time window pointed to a higher uncertainty in the L2 group, who needed more time to integrate incoming information and were more affected by the word order variation than the L1 group, indicating that they relied more on surface-level information. A different cue weighting was also found in the experiment testing whether participants predict upcoming reference based on implicit causality information. Here, an additional child L1 group was tested, who had a lower memory capacity than the adult L2 group, as confirmed by a digit span task conducted with both learner groups. Whereas the children were only slightly delayed compared to the adult L1 group and showed the same effect of condition, the L2 speakers showed an over-reliance on surface-level information (first-mention/subjecthood). Hence, the pattern observed resulted more likely from L1/L2 differences than from resource deficits. The reviewed studies and the experiments conducted show that L2 prediction is affected by a range of factors. While some of the factors can be attributed to more individual differences (e.g., language similarity, slower processing) and can be interpreted by L2 processing accounts assuming that L1 and L2 processing are basically the same, certain limits are better explained by accounts that assume more substantial L1/L2 differences. Crucially, the experimental results demonstrate that the RAGE hypothesis should be refined: Although prediction as a fast-operating mechanism is likely to be affected in L2 speakers, there is no indication that prediction is the dominant source of L1/L2 differences. The results rather demonstrate that L2 speakers show a different weighting of cues and rely more on semantic and surface-level information to predict as well as to integrate incoming information.show moreshow less
  • Die vorliegende Dissertation untersucht, wie Nicht-Muttersprachler des Deutschen sprachliche Information vorausschauend verarbeiten. Frühere Forschungsarbeiten haben gezeigt, dass diese Fähigkeit bei Fremdsprachsprechern im Vergleich zu Muttersprachlern eingeschränkt ist. Dies resultierte in der Formulierung der RAGE Hypothese, die besagt, dass Nicht-Muttersprachler eine reduzierte Fähigkeit besitzen, Erwartungen zu generieren. Unter der Berücksichtigung, dass vorausschauende Verarbeitung die Sprachverarbeitung bei Muttersprachlern erleichtert und möglicherweise eine Rolle beim Sprachenlernen spielt, ist die Annahme, dass sich Mutter- und Fremdsprachunterschiede durch unterschiedliche Verarbeitungsmechanismen erklären lassen, besonders interessant. Jedoch zeigen die Ergebnisse neuerer Studien, dass die Annahmen der RAGE Hypothese zu generell sind und es selektive Unterschiede zwischen Mutter- und Fremdsprachsprechern geben könnte. In dieser Dissertation wurde die RAGE Hypothese systematisch überprüft.

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Author:Judith SchlenterORCiD
URN:urn:nbn:de:kobv:517-opus4-432498
DOI:https://doi.org/10.25932/publishup-43249
Subtitle (English):Evidence from visual-world eye-tracking
Subtitle (German):Visual-World Eye-Tracking Evidenz
Referee:Claudia FelserORCiDGND, Theres GrüterORCiDGND
Advisor:Claudia Felser, Sol Lago
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Language:English
Year of first Publication:2019
Year of Completion:2019
Publishing Institution:Universität Potsdam
Granting Institution:Universität Potsdam
Date of final exam:2019/08/07
Release Date:2019/08/21
Tag:Fremdsprachverarbeitung; RAGE Hypothese; Visual-World Eye-Tracking; vorausschauende Sprachverarbeitung
L2 sentence processing; RAGE hypothesis; prediction; visual-world eye-tracking
Pagenumber:251
RVK - Regensburg Classification:ER 980, ER 925, ER 920
Organizational units:Humanwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Strukturbereich Kognitionswissenschaften / Department Linguistik
Dewey Decimal Classification:4 Sprache / 41 Linguistik / 410 Linguistik
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung, 4.0 International