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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton May 23, 2017

Syntactically–driven algorithmic processing of PP-attachment ambiguity in a second language

  • Junya Fukuta EMAIL logo , Aki Goto , Yusaku Kawaguchi , Akari Kurita and Daisuke Murota


This study explored whether Japanese EFL learners can utilize syntactically–driven algorithmic processing. For this purpose, the study attempted to inhibit other forms of processing (i. e., semantically–driven heuristic processing and processing with explicit knowledge) by using a self–paced reading task with priming of PP–attachment ambiguity. In the experiment, 20 highly proficient Japanese learners and 18 native speakers of English engaged in a phrase–by–phrase self–paced reading task after reading prime sentences. Although the results of non–native speakers (NNSs) showed a similar tendency to the NSs, there were slight differences between NSs and NNSs in terms of the size of the priming effects. This indicated that highly proficient Japanese EFL learners can utilize syntactically–driven algorithmic processing, but the process may be relatively “fragile” compared to that of NSs.


Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the 14th annual conference of the Japan Second Language Association (J-SLA 2014) and the 19th International Conference of Pan-Pacific Association of Applied Linguistics (PAAL 2014). We would like to express our gratitude to Dr. Shigenori Wakabayashi and Dr. Remi Murao for their insightful comments. Any errors that may remain are, of course, our own.


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Appendices. Priming and target stimuli used in the current experiment

Appendix 1: Priming sentences constructed with reference to Kim et al. (2014) for L2 participants

The mouse dug the hole in the garden next to the bush.
The teacher preferred the tea in the small can with some sugar.
The officer examined the books on the Cold War from the library.
The student changed a sentence of the report with a pen.
The museum obtained the picture by the famous artist with the signature.
The tourists admired the painting of the valley on the wall.
The man watered the tree with the bird’s nest with large roots.
The woman avoided the spider in the forest with the poison.
The cat filled the hole in the wall with the window.
The clerk made the coffee from the beans from the shelf.
The students read the book on the revolution in the 18th century.
The mayor accepted the money for the project on the new building.
The expert contributed the fossil to the museum with the clean floor.
The boy visited the house in the street with traffic lights.
The dogs watched the bird on the tree branch with yellow leaves.
The girl ate some chips before the party at her friend’s house.

Appendix 2: Target stimuli and two–choice questions

Target stimuli and regionsTwo–choice questionsAlternatives
The designer /loved the bed /by the couch /with white furWhat had white fur?the bedthe couch
The officer /noticed the mirror /on the wall /with a crackWhat had a crack?the mirrorthe wall
The staff /forgot the chair /under the table /with three legsWhat had three legs?the chairthe table
The guests /admired the picture /of the women /in the restaurantWhat was in the restaurant?the picturethe woman
The waiter /served the tea /in small cups /from ChinaWhat was made in China?the teathe small cup
The assistant /found the battery /for the computer /in the boxWhat was in the box?the batterythe computer
The parents /watched the video /of their daughters /in the roomWhich was in the room?the videotheir daughter
The professor /saw the news /about teaching /on the webWhat was taken place on the web?the newsteaching
The man /moved the chairs /in the room /near the posterWhat was near the poster?the chairthe room
The woman /bought a novel /about a dog /in the cityWhat was in the city?a novela dog
The musician /liked the girl /with many friends /at schoolWho is at the school?the girlher friends
The secretary /left the file /about the employee /with the informationWhat had the information?the filethe employee
The man /repaired the windows /by the doors /with the markWhat had the mark?the windowsthe doors
The boy /missed the meeting /about the negotiations /in the departmentWhat was carried out in the department?meetingnegotiation
The girl /visited the house /in the street /near the hospital.What was near the hospital?the housethe street
The woman /watched the bird /on the elephant /with an injury.Which animal had an injury?the birdthe elephant
Published Online: 2017-05-23
Published in Print: 2018-09-25

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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