April 3: Tania Ionin (University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign) – Utrecht

We are happy to announce that on Monday, April 3, Tania Ionin (University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign) will give a LUSH talk in Utrecht.

We hope to see you all there!

Date: Monday, April 3, 2017
Time: 15:30 – 17:00
Location: Utrecht, Trans 10, room 0.19 (A.W. de Grootkamer)
Speaker: Tania Ionin (University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign)
Title: Second language processing of definiteness and plurality

It is well-established that second language (L2) English learners from languages without articles or obligatory plural marking, such as Korean and Mandarin Chinese, have difficulty acquiring both articles and plural marking in English. Less well-established is whether, and how, the particular syntax/semantics mappings in the nominal domain in the learners’ L1 may influence the course of L2-acquisition. Furthermore, while most prior work in this domain has used offline (untimed) data collection methods, there is increasing evidence that online methods (ones that put time pressure on participants, and place the focus on comprehension rather than judgments) may be more successful at tapping into learners’ implicit knowledge (cf. Ellis 2005, Jegerski 2014). In light of these consideration, the present work has three goals: (i) to examine whether intermediate-to-high-proficiency L1-Korean and L1-Mandarin L2-English learners are sensitive to English articles and plural marking both online and offline; (ii) to examine whether the learners are influenced by L1-transfer, that is, whether they are more target-like in contexts that require plural marking / classifiers / demonstratives in the learners’ L1; and (iii) to examine the role of semantic universals, such as atomicity (cf. Chierchia 2010) and specificity, in the L2-acquisition of the nominal domain. These goals are accomplished through three experiments (joint work with Sea Hee Choi) which use self-paced reading and acceptability judgment tasks to tap into L2-English learners’ processing of: atomic vs. non-atomic mass nouns (experiment 1); the relationship between plural marking and (in)definiteness (experiment 2); and different types of definites (anaphoric vs. bridging) and indefinites (specific vs. non-specific) (experiment 3, currently ongoing; preliminary results will be reported).


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