Information structure violations in passive constructions at the syntax-discourse interface by advanced L2 English learners
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DepartamentoUniversidad de Granada. Departamento de Filologías Inglesa y Alemana; Universidad de Granada. Departamento de Psicología Experimental
Syntax-discourse interfaceInterfaz sintaxis-discursoPsycholinguisticsPsicolingüísticaSecond language (L2) acquisitionAdquisición de segundas lenguas (L2)Passive sentencesOraciones pasivasInterface hypothesisHipótesis de la interfazSyntax processingProcesamiento de sintaxisReaction timeTiempo de reacciónSelf-paced reading taskAcceptability judgement task
SponsorshipUniversidad de Granada. Departamento de Filologías Inglesa y Alemana. Máster en Literatura y Lingüísticas Inglesas. Curso 2013-2014; Universidad de Granada. Departamento de Psicología Experimental. Máster en Literatura y Lingüísticas Inglesas. Curso 2013-2014
In the recent history of linguistics, there have been several theories that have attempted to give a full account of the functional architecture of the mind. One of the most important was Fodor's in the 1980s. In line with his theory of the modularity of mind, Sorace and Filiaci (2006) put forward the Interface Hypothesis (IH from now onwards). It originally proposed that language structures involving an interface between syntax and other cognitive domains are less likely to be acquired completely than structures involving an internal interface (e.g., lexicon-syntax) and that external interfaces acquisition are problematic and lead to residual deficits even in very advanced stages of L2 development. Researchers have concentrated mostly on the syntax–discourse interface as it has turned out to cause more deficits because it requires speakers to integrate syntactic information with information about the discourse status of different entities. This study focuses on the way a group of 12 very advanced L2 English learners and another 12 native speakers of English manage the informational distribution of passive (vs. active) constructions. Much research has been conducted on passives regarding their acquisition and instruction in both L1 and L2, in adults as well as in children, but there are no studies that analyse in depth its informational distribution, as far as we are concerned. As such, in the present dissertation, the topic of research is the processing and knowledge of information in passive constructions by means of two tasks. On the one hand, an on-line task has been designed that will test the participants' processing, and on the other, an off-line task that will test their knowledge. The decision to use two different types of task is based on a series of predictions made by the IH. According to this hypothesis, learners will experience processing deficits that will show in the on-line task, as they need to integrate more elements, which takes a higher toll on their working memories, whereas no deficits will be experienced in the off-line task, and they will behave in a native-like manner. Therefore, the predictions are as follows: (i) in the on-line task, learners will show higher Reading Times when processing sentences whose information structure has been violated, and (ii) in the off-line task, learners will show higher acceptability rates for those sentences whose information structure has not been violated. All in all the results obtained and analysed in this study support the general predictions of IH, as well as the ones present in this dissertation, and shed light on the otherwise underexplored area of information structure distribution and processing of passive sentences in L2 English acquisition, fitting into the body of literature produced up to now on the syntax-discourse interface and adding valuable information on passive constructions. The data gathered also provide new findings on how both learners and natives process passive constructions at the syntax-discourse level and point out the deficits in said processing, adding to the corpora of interface knowledge.