Sources of difficulty in L2 scope judgments

Chung, Eun Seon (Eunice)
July 2013
Second Language Research;Jul2013, Vol. 29 Issue 3, p285
Academic Journal
Second language (L2) learners have been found to experience difficulty in tasks that require the integration of discourse–pragmatic properties with syntactic and semantic properties (Sorace and Serratrice, 2009; Tsimpli and Sorace, 2006; Valenzuela, 2006). The present article investigates the sources of L2 difficulty in a phenomenon where multiple components of linguistic analysis are involved. The study examines L1-Korean L2-English adult learners’ interpretation of English sentences with the universally quantified object NP (every NP) and negation using an offline contextualized acceptability judgment task. The results suggest that the sources of L2 variability reflect L2 adults’ focus on content and meaning access and L1 transfer of interpretive preferences in initial to intermediate stages of acquisition but are replaced by the difficulty of integrating L2 pragmatic properties with other aspects of linguistic analysis in the advanced stages, a difficulty which can nevertheless be overcome in ultimate attainment. The study posits pragmatic information to be one of the last considerations for L2 learners when multiple types of information need to be integrated to calculate meaning despite the fact that L2 adults possess mature cognitive mechanisms and pragmatic abilities.


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