Document Type : Research Paper

Authors

TEFL Department, Bu-Ali Sina University, Hamedan, Iran

10.22034/elt.2022.50559.2481

Abstract

This study explored the competition between semantic and morphosyntactic processing in L1 and L2. In addition, the relationship between working memory capacity (WMC) and L2 semantic-morphosyntactic processing was scrutinized. To this purpose, 73 Persian learners of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) participated in an offline grammaticality judgment test (GJT), an L1 as well as an L2 semantically-primed test, and a WMC test. The results showed that L1 morphosyntactic processing was not affected by semantic priming. But, L2 morphosyntactic parsing decisions, irrespective of the participants’ WMC, was significantly influenced by semantic priming, indicating that L2 morphosyntactic knowledge in learners' interlanguage system might be shaky and subject to communicative aspects of input. Additionally, the findings revealed a significant relationship between the participants' WMC and their L2 semantic/morphosyntactic processing. The findings of the study provide some implications for foreign language teachers with regard to teaching morphosyntactic aspects of language and correcting morphosyntactic errors.

Keywords

Main Subjects

Adams, A. M., & Guillot, K. (2008). Working memory and writing in bilingual students. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 156(1), 13–28.
Alptekin, C., & Erçetin, G. (2009). Assessing the relationship of working memory to L2 reading: Does the nature of comprehension process and reading span task make a difference? System, 37(4), 627-639.
Alptekin, C., & Erçetin, G. (2015). Eye movements in reading span tasks to working memory functions and second language reading. Eurasian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 1(2), 35-56.
Ariji, K., Omaki, A., & Tatsuta, N. (2003). Working memory restricts the use of semantic information in ambiguity resolution. In P. Slezak (Ed.), Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Cognitive Science (pp. 19-25). Sydney, Australia: University of New South Wales.
Baddeley, A. D. (2017). Modularity, working memory and language acquisition. Second Language Research, 33(3), 299–311.
Chen, L., Shu, H., Liu, Y., Zhao, J., & Li, P. (2007). ERP signatures of subject-verb agreement in L2 learning. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 10(2), 161–174.
Chun, D.C. & Payne, J.S. (2004). What makes students click: Working memory and look-up behavior. System, 32(4), 481–504.
Clahsen, H., & Felser, C. (2006a). Grammatical processing in language learners. Applied Psycholinguistics, 27(1), 3-42.
Clahsen, H., & Felser, C. (2006b). How native-like is non-native language processing? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 10(12), 564-570.
Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences. Hillsdale, N.J: L. Erlbaum Associates.
Dallas, A. C. & Kaan. E. (2008). Second language processing of filler-gap dependencies by late learners. Language and Linguistics Compass, 2(3), 372–388.
Daneman, M., & Carpenter, P. A. (1980). Individual differences in working memory and reading. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behaviour, 19(4), 450–466.
de Bot, K., Lowie, W., & Verspoor, M.H. (2007). A dynamic systems theory approach to second language acquisition. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 10(1), 7–21.
de Diego Balaguer, R., Sebastián-Gallés, N., Diaz, B., & Rodriguez-Fornells, A. (2005). Morphological processing in early bilinguals: An ERP study of regular and irregular verb processing. Cognitive Brain Research, 25(1), 312–327.
Dimroth, C. (2008). Age effects on the process of L2 acquisition? Evidence from the acquisition of negation and finiteness in L2 German. Language Learning, 58(1), 117–150.
Dornyei, Z. (2009). The psychology of second language acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Faul, F., Erdfelder, E., Buchner, A., & Lang, A.-G. (2009). Statistical power analyses using G*Power 3.1: Tests for correlation and regression analyses. Behavior Research Methods41(4), 1149-1160.   
Ferreira, F., Bailey, K. G. D., & Ferraro, V. (2002). Good-Enough representations in language comprehension. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 11(1), 11–15.
Ferreira, F., & Patson, N. D. (2007). The “Good Enough” Approach to Language Comprehension. Language and Linguistics Compass, 1(1-2), 71–83.                                                   
Fortkamp, M. B. (2000). Working memory capacity and L2 speech production: an exploratory study. (Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation). Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina. Florianópolis, Brazil.
Foucart, A., & Frenck-Mestre, C. (2011). Grammatical gender processing in L2: Electrophysiological evidence of the effect of L1-L2 syntactic similarity. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 14(3), 379–399.
Foucart, A., & Frenck-Mestre, C. (2012). Can late L2 learners acquire new grammatical features? Evidence from ERPs and eye-tracking. Journal of Memory and Language, 66(1), 226–248.
Gilboy, E., Sopena, J. M., Clifton, C., & Frazier, L. (1995). Argument structure and association preference in Spanish and English complex NPs. Cognition, 54(2), 131–167.
Grundy, J. G., & Timmer, K. (2017). Bilingualism and working memory capacity: A comprehensive meta-analysis. Second Language Research, 33(3), 325–340.
Hahne, A., Müller, J., & Clahsen, H. (2006). Morphological processing in a second language: behavioral and event-related brain potential evidence for storage and decomposition. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 18(1), 121–134.
Harding, E. E., Sammler, D., Kotz, S. A. (2019). Attachment preference in auditory German sentences: Individual differences and pragmatic strategy. Journal of Frontiers in Psychology, 10(1357), 1-10.
Harrington, M. (2004). Commentary: Input Processing as a theory of processing input. In B. VanPatten (Ed.), Processing instruction: Theory, Research, and Commentary (pp. 79–92). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Havik, E., Roberts, L., van Hout, R., Schreuder, R., & Haverkort, M. (2009). Processing subject–object ambiguities in L2 Dutch: A self-paced reading study with German L2 learners of Dutch. Language Learning, 59(1), 73–112.
Hopp, H. (2010). Ultimate attainment in L2 inflection: Performance similarities between non-native and native speakers. Lingua, 120(4), 901-931.
Hopp, H. (2014). Working memory effects in the L2 processing of ambiguous relative clauses. Language Acquisition, 21(3), 250-278. 
Jackson, C. (2008). Proficiency level and the interaction of lexical and morphosyntactic information during L2 sentence processing. Language Learning, 58(4), 875-909.
Jackson, C. N., & Bobb, S. C. (2009). The processing and comprehension of wh-questions among second language speakers of German. Applied Psycholinguistics, 30(4), 603–636.
Jackson, C., & Dussias, P. (2009). Cross-linguistic differences and their impact on L2 sentence processing. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 12(1), 65-82.
Jaekel, N. (2015). Use and impact of language learning strategies on language proficiency: Investigating the impact of individual difference variables and participation in CLIL streams. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Ruhr-University of Bochum, Bochum, Germany.
James, A. N., Fraundorf, S. H., Lee, E. K., & Watson, D. G. (2018). Individual differences in syntactic processing: Is there evidence for reader-text interactions? Journal of Memory and Language, 102(2), 155-181.
Jessner, U. (2008). A DST model of multilingualism and the role of metalinguistic awareness. Modern Language Journal, 92(2), 270-283.
Jiang, N., Novokshanova, E., Masuda, K., & Wang, X. (2011). Morphological congruency and the acquisition of L2 morphemes. Language Learning, 61(3), 940-967. 
Joh, J. (2015). Exploring working memory capacity as an independent contributor to discourse comprehension: A study of Korean EFL learners. Language Research, 51(2), 443-473.
Joh, J., & Plakans, L. (2017). Working memory in L2 reading comprehension: The influence of prior knowledge. System, 70(November), 107-120.   
Joseph, H. L., Bremner, G., Liverdedge, S. P., & Nation, K. (2015). Working memory, reading ability and the effects of distance and typicality on anaphor resolution in children. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 27(5), 622-639.           
Just, M. A., & Carpenter, P. A. (1992). A capacity theory of comprehension: Individual differences in working memory. Psychological Review, 99(1), 122-149.
Keating, G. (2009). Sensitivity to violations of gender agreement in native and nonnative Spanish: An eye-movement investigation. Language Learning, 59(3), 503–535.
Keating, G. D. (2010). The effects of linear distance and working memory on the processing of gender agreement in Spanish. In B. VanPatten & J. Jegerski (Eds.), Research in second language processing and parsing (pp. 113–134). San Diego State University.
Kim, J. H. (2010). L1 transfer in L2 relative clause attachment. English Language and Linguistics, 16(3), 115-134.                    
Kim, J. H., & Christianson, K. (2012). Sentence complexity and working memory effects in ambiguity resolution. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 42(5), 393-411.
Kim, J. H., & Christianson, K. (2016). Working memory effects on L1 and L2 processing of ambiguous relative clauses by Korean L2 learners of English. Second Language Research, 33(3), 365-388.
Leeser, M. J. (2007). Learner-Based factors in L2 reading comprehension and processing grammatical form: Topic familiarity and working memory. Language Learning, 57(2), 229-270.
Li, S. Ellis, R., & Zhu, Y. (2019). The associations between cognitive ability and L2 development under five different instructional conditions. Applied Psycholinguistics, 40(3), 693-722.
Linck, J. A., Osthus, P., Koeth, J. T., & Bunting, M. F. (2014). Working memory and second language comprehension and production: A meta-analysis. Psychonomic Bulletin Review, 21(4), 861-883.
MacWhinney, B. (2005). Extending the competition model. International Journal of Bilingualism, 9(1), 69-84.
Mahmoodi, M.H., Sheykholmoluki, H., Zoghipaydar, M.R., Shahsavari, S. (2022). Working memory capacity and relative clause attachment preference of Persian EFL learners: Does segmentation play any role? Journal of Psycholinguist Research. (Published online 11 January 2022). doi.org/10.1007/s10936-021-09825-9
Marefat, H., Samadi, E., & Yaseri, M. (2015). Semantic priming effect on relative clause attachment ambiguity resolution in L2. Journal of Applied Research on English Language, 4(2), 78-94.
McDonald, J. L. (2006). Beyond the critical period: Processing-based explanations for poor grammaticality judgment performance by late second language learners. Journal of Memory and Language, 55(3), 381–401.
Mitchell, R., Myles, F., & Marsden, E. (2013). Second language learning theories. London: Routledge.
O’Brien, I., Segalowitz, N., Collentine, J., & Freed, B. (2006). Phonological memory and lexical, narrative, and grammatical skills in second-language oral production by adult learners. Applied Psycholinguistics, 27(3), 377–402.
O’Grady, W. (2005). Syntactic carpentry: An emergentist approach to syntax. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Ojima, S., Nakata, H., & Kakigi, R. (2005). An ERP study of second language learning after childhood: effects of proficiency. Journal of cognitive neuroscience, 17(8), 1212–1228.
Omaki, A., & Ariji, K. (2003). Working memory capacity for sentence processing: Is it language-independent? Paper presented at the 16th Second Language Research Forum, University of Arizona, Tucson, 17 October.
Omaki, A., & Schulz., B. (2011). Filler-gap dependencies and island constraints in second language sentence processing. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 33(4), 563–588.
Parodi, T. (2000). Finiteness and verb placement in second language acquisition. Second Language Research, 16(4), 355–381.
Payne, B. R., Grison, S., Gao, X., Christianson, K., Morrow, D. G., & Stine-Morrow, E. A. L. (2014). Aging and individual differences in binding during sentence understanding: Evidence from temporary and global syntactic attachment ambiguities. Cognition, 130(2), 157–173.
Sabourin, L., & Haverkort, M. (2003). Neural substrates of representation and processing of a second language. In R. van Hout, A. Hulk, F. Kuiken, & R. J. Towell (eds.), The lexicon-syntax interface in second language acquisition (pp. 175–195). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Sabourin, L., & Stowe, L. A. (2008). Second language processing: when are first and second languages processed similarly? Second Language Research, 24(3), 397–430.
Sharwood-Smith, M., & Truscott, J. (2005). Stages or continua in second language acquisition: A MOGUL solution. Applied Linguistics, 26(2), 219-240.
Swanson, H. L. (1994). Short-term memory and working memory: Do both contribute to our understanding of academic achievement in children and adults with learning disabilities? Journal of Learning Disabilities, 27(1), 34-50.  
Swets, B., Desmet, T., Hambrick, D. Z., & Ferreira, F. (2007). The role of working memory in syntactic ambiguity resolution: A psychometric approach. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 136(1), 64–81.
Tanner, D., Osterhout, L., & Herschensohn, J. (2009). Snapshots of grammaticalization: Differential electrophysiological responses to grammatical anomalies with increasing L2 exposure. In J. Chandlee, M. Franchini, S. Lord, & G.-M. Rheiner (eds.), Proceedings of the 33rd Boston University Conference on Language Development (pp. 528–539). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla.
Tokowicz, N., & MacWhinney, B. (2005). Implicit and explicit measures of sensitivity to violations in second language grammar: An event-related potential investigation. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 27(2), 173–204.
Tokowicz, N., & Warren, T. (2010). Beginning adult L2 learners’ sensitivity to morphosyntactic violations: A self-paced reading study. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 22(7), 1092–1106.
Tolentino, L., & Tokowicz, N. (2011). Across languages, space and time: A review of the role of cross-language similarity in L2 (morpho)syntactic processing as revealed by fMRI and ERP Methods. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 33(1), 91-125.
Traxler, J. M. (2007). Working memory contributions to relative clause attachment processing: A hierarchical linear modeling analysis. Memory & Cognition, 35(5), 1107–1121.
Ullman, M. T. (2005). A cognitive neuroscience perspective on second language acquisition: The Declarative/Procedural Model. In C. Sanz (Ed.), Minds and context in adult second language acquisition: Methods, Theory, and Practice (pp. 141–178). Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.
VanPatten, B. (2004). Input Processing in second language acquisition. In B. VanPatten (Ed.), Processing Instruction: Theory, Research, and Commentary (pp. 5–31). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
VanPatten, B. (2007). Input processing in adult second language acquisition. In B. VanPatten., & J. Williams (Eds.), Theories in second language acquisition: An introduction (pp. 115-135). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Weber, K., & Lavric, A. (2008). Syntactic anomaly elicits a lexico-semantic (N400) ERP effect in the second language but not the first. Psychophysiology, 45(6), 920–925.
Wen, Z., Mota, M. B., & McNeill, A. (2015). Working memory in second language acquisition and processing. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
Witzel, J., Witzel, N., & Nicol, J. (2012). Deeper than shallow: Evidence for structure-based parsing biases in second-language sentence processing. Applied Psycholinguistics, 33(2), 419–456