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Processing of pronouns and reflexives in Turkish-German bilinguals

  • Previous studies on native language (L1) anaphor resolution have found that monolingual native speakers are sensitive to syntactic, pragmatic, and semantic constraints on pronouns and reflexive resolution. However, most studies have focused on English and other Germanic languages, and little is currently known about the online (i.e., real-time) processing of anaphors in languages with syntactically less restricted anaphors, such as Turkish. We also know relatively little about how 'non-standard' populations such as non-native (L2) speakers and heritage speakers (HSs) resolve anaphors. This thesis investigates the interpretation and real-time processing of anaphors in German and in a typologically different and as yet understudied language, Turkish. It compares hypotheses about differences between native speakers' (L1ers) and L2 speakers' (L2ers) sentence processing, looking into differences in processing mechanisms as well as the possibility of cross-linguistic influence. To help fill the current research gap regarding HS sentencePrevious studies on native language (L1) anaphor resolution have found that monolingual native speakers are sensitive to syntactic, pragmatic, and semantic constraints on pronouns and reflexive resolution. However, most studies have focused on English and other Germanic languages, and little is currently known about the online (i.e., real-time) processing of anaphors in languages with syntactically less restricted anaphors, such as Turkish. We also know relatively little about how 'non-standard' populations such as non-native (L2) speakers and heritage speakers (HSs) resolve anaphors. This thesis investigates the interpretation and real-time processing of anaphors in German and in a typologically different and as yet understudied language, Turkish. It compares hypotheses about differences between native speakers' (L1ers) and L2 speakers' (L2ers) sentence processing, looking into differences in processing mechanisms as well as the possibility of cross-linguistic influence. To help fill the current research gap regarding HS sentence comprehension, it compares findings for this group with those for L2ers. To investigate the representation and processing of anaphors in these three populations, I carried out a series of offline questionnaires and Visual-World eye-tracking experiments on the resolution of reflexives and pronouns in both German and Turkish. In the German experiments, native German speakers as well as L2ers of German were tested, while in the Turkish experiments, non-bilingual native Turkish speakers as well as HSs of Turkish with L2 German were tested. This allowed me to observe both cross-linguistic differences as well as population differences between monolinguals' and different types of bilinguals' resolution of anaphors. Regarding the comprehension of Turkish anaphors by L1ers, contrary to what has been previously assumed, I found that Turkish has no reflexive that follows Condition A of Binding theory (Chomsky, 1981). Furthermore, I propose more general cross-linguistic differences between Turkish and German, in the form of a stronger reliance on pragmatic information in anaphor resolution overall in Turkish compared to German. As for the processing differences between L1ers and L2ers of a language, I found evidence in support of hypotheses which propose that L2ers of German rely more strongly on non-syntactic information compared to L1ers (Clahsen & Felser, 2006, 2017; Cunnings, 2016, 2017) independent of a potential influence of their L1. HSs, on the other hand, showed a tendency to overemphasize interpretational contrasts between different Turkish anaphors compared to monolingual native speakers. However, lower-proficiency HSs were likely to merge different forms for simplified representation and processing. Overall, L2ers and HSs showed differences from monolingual native speakers both in their final interpretation of anaphors and during online processing. However, these differences were not parallel between the two types of bilingual and thus do not support a unified model of L2 and HS processing (cf. Montrul, 2012). The findings of this thesis contribute to the field of anaphor resolution by providing data from a previously unexplored language, Turkish, as well as contributing to research on native and non-native processing differences. My results also illustrate the importance of considering individual differences in the acquisition process when studying bilingual language comprehension. Factors such as age of acquisition, language proficiency and the type of input a language learner receives may influence the processing mechanisms they develop and employ, both between and within different bilingual populations.show moreshow less

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Author:Gloria-Mona Knospe
URN:urn:nbn:de:kobv:517-opus4-436442
DOI:https://doi.org/10.25932/publishup-43644
Referee:Claudia FelserORCiDGND, Pia KnoeferleORCiDGND
Advisor:Claudia Felser, Harald Clahsen
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Language:English
Year of Completion:2018
Publishing Institution:Universität Potsdam
Granting Institution:Universität Potsdam
Date of final exam:2019/05/09
Release Date:2019/10/18
Tag:anaphors; bilingualism; eye-tracking; language processing; pronouns; reflexives; visual world
Pagenumber:xxii, 410
Organizational units:Humanwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Linguistik / Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft
Dewey Decimal Classification:4 Sprache / 41 Linguistik / 410 Linguistik
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung, 4.0 International