L2 Learners’ English Prepositional-Phrase Processing with Consideration of L2 Proficiency and Word Familiarity: A mixed-effect Analysis

A considerable number of studies have hitherto examined how native speakers and second language (hereafter L1 and L2, respectively) learners of English process English prepositional phrases. It is usually thought that both L1 and L2 speakers have a preference for verb phrase modification (e.g., The boy broke the old window with a ball of snow.) over noun phrase modification (e.g., The boy broke the old window with a view of snow.). However, little research has attempted to reveal how non-structural factors interact with L2 learners’ prepositional phrase processing. In this study, I examined whether L2 learners’ syntactic processing preference for prepositional-phrase attachment was affected by their L2 proficiency and word familiarity with reading time data obtained from the word-by-word self-paced reading task. In addition, the possibility that L2 syntactic priming is influenced by such non-syntactic factors was also investigated. The research results showed that L2 learners’ prepositional-phrase processing and syntactic priming were not subject to those factors, indicating that in prepositional phrases, there was no interaction between L2 learners’ syntactic processing and those non-syntactic elements.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/jehd.v5n1a10