Processing of relative clauses with stylistic inversion in L2 French in adult learners with L1 English

Terry, Chelsea (2022) Processing of relative clauses with stylistic inversion in L2 French in adult learners with L1 English. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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This thesis studies low to intermediate proficiency L2 speakers of French who have English as their L1 in order to better understand the role of proficiency and transfer in second language processing. Specifically, this study focuses on how these speakers process different relative clauses structures in their second language by having them read different sentences using a self paced reading task followed by comprehension questions. Participants read sentences that were of the following structures: subject relative clauses (SR), object relative clauses (OR), and object relative clauses with stylistic inversion (ORSI). The data provides evidence that proficiency as well as sentence structure have an effect on participants’ processing abilities. As participants’ proficiency increased so did their processing abilities which was evidenced by them recording faster reading times (RT) and achieving higher accuracy on comprehension questions. These increases in performance were only found to affect the OR and ORSI structures. Participants were consistent in their performance on SR, with results remaining stable as proficiency increased. Ultimately it appears that participants had the most difficulty with ORSI, the structure that is not allowed in their L1. OR had the next highest difficulty level, with participants having no difficulty with SR. The preference for SR over OR and ORSI suggests that the subject-object processing asymmetry was transferred from participants’ L1. This is further supported by participants’ poor performance on ORSI sentences. Based on comprehension results as well as RT data, participants appear to have begun acquiring the morphosyntactic process needed to process ORSI. These results plus the improved performance with increased proficiency, support the FTFA over the SSH.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 15704
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 79-83)
Keywords: linguistics, second language acquisition, relative clauses
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Linguistics
Date: September 2022
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Linguistics; Second language acquisition; Language and languages--Study and teaching; English language--Relative clauses, French language--Relative clauses

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