[PS-1.80] The effects of verb bias and plausibility on ambiguity resolution in L2 English: an eye-tracking study of native German speakers.

Allen, S. & Family, N.

University of Kaiserslautern

We examine the effects of frequency-based verb bias and plausibility of noun phrases (NP) for the resolution of ambiguities in L2 English in 58 German native speakers. The materials used in this eye-tracking experiment were identical to those used in the in Garnsey et al. (1997). Three variables were tested: verb-bias, ambiguity, and plausibility. The temporarily ambiguous NP occurred directly after the verb as either a direct object (e.g. The senator regretted the decision immediately) or the subject of an embedded clause (e.g. The senator regretted the decision had been made public). An equal number of DO-biased verbs, equally biased verbs, and SC-biased verbs (48 total) occurred in four different types of sentences each across four lists, crossing ambiguity (i.e. presence of ?that?) and plausibility (i.e. whether the NP is plausible as DO). Our native German speakers showed structural effects earlier in the sentence relative to the English monolinguals in previous studies, and a late effect for plausibility. Our results provide experimental evidence that L2ers use different and less efficient strategies to comprehend ambiguous structures in English. We discuss our findings with respect to transfer of an L1 parsing strategies (i.e. relative clause processing in German) to the L2.