INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES IN PREDICTIVE PROCESSING: EVIDENCE FROM SUBJECT FILLED-GAP EFFECTS IN NATIVE AND NONNATIVE SPEAKERS OF ENGLISH
Johnson, Adrienne Marie
University of Kansas
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This study examined whether native and non-native speakers of English show evidence of predictive processing in the domain of syntax, and investigated the extent to which linguistic and non-linguistic factors modulate prediction (e.g., Grüter et al., 2014; Hopp, 2013; Kaan, 2014). Using self-paced reading, this study examined wh- dependencies, focusing on filled-gap effects in the pre-verbal, subject position. Specifically, this study manipulated the distance between the filler and potential gap position to investigate the proposal that increasing the distance between the filler and potential gap may force the parser to strongly commit to the subject gap analysis (e.g., Clifton & Frazier, 1989; Lee, 2004). A clear subject filled-gap effect was found in the condition in which the filler was immediately adjacent to the potential subject gap position for both English native speakers and Korean learners of English. Thus, both native and non-native speakers of English are able to immediately predict subject gaps and do not need additional distance. No effects were found in the long-distance condition for either natives or non-natives, suggesting that the increased processing burden may have hindered rather than facilitated the generation of a strong prediction for a subject gap. Greater attentional control, as measured by the Stroop task, was associated with larger subject filled-gap effects for both populations. Thus, these results provide evidence that non-native speakers are able to predict syntactic structure and actively resolve wh- dependencies and that the cognitive abilities that impact prediction are qualitatively similar in both native and non-native speakers (Kaan, 2014).
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