thecenter

Activities and Seminars

Leah Roberts. Cross-linguistic influences in real-time processing and acquisition of tense/aspect in the second language
 
Date: Apr 18, 2013

What: Cross-linguistic influences in real-time processing and acquisition of tense/aspect in the second language

Where: BCBL auditorium


When: 12 noon


In this talk, I will present data from a range of (self-paced reading and eye-tracking) studies investigating the real-time processing and acquisition of tense/aspect distinctions in the L2 by different groups of L2 learners (English, Greek, German). Given that even closely related languages vary considerably in how tense/aspect distinctions are encoded, it is unsurprising that learning such phenomena is a rather difficult task for many second language (L2) learners. In many languages, like English, temporal expression is deeply rooted in the grammatical system because the finite verb is mandatorily marked for the categories of tense, aspect, or both, via inflectional morphology (pull-ed, was pull-ing); whereas some languages lack grammatical categories for tense/aspect altogether. Nevertheless, all have available a range of non-mandatory temporal adverbs to express time (yesterday, tomorrow), which tend to interact with tense and aspect. Despite the large body of research on the L2 acquisition of temporal expression, we know very little about whether L2 learners can develop implicit knowledge that can be applied automatically in real-time comprehension, or whether this is dependent on the properties of the first language and/or level of L2 proficiency. I will argue that the findings suggest that learners of languages with grammatical aspect (French, Greek vs. German, Dutch) are more sensitive to tense/aspect distinctions in their L2 processing, and are more likely to process the input like native speakers, even if those L1 distinctions are not instantiated in the same way in the target language.