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Covariation between temporal interlanguage features and nonverbal event categorisation

  • Norbert Vanek EMAIL logo and Larry Selinker


This study tests how patterns of temporal reference in the linguistic expression of advanced Chinese learners of English co-vary with their nonverbal event categorisation. 42 learners were asked to retell videos with achievement-type events and activities in English. Results from expression showed pronounced crosslinguistic influence in learners’ infrequent combination of ongoingness with achievements, when compared with the English controls. Categorisation data signals that L1-modulated preferences also underlie learners’ nonverbal judgements. Crucially, the main new finding is covariation between the frequency of combined forms in learners’ retellings and how close their overall categorisation choices are to the target control group’s.

Funding statement: Research reported in this article was funded from the ECF-2014-459 grant awarded to the first author by the Leverhulme Trust.


We wish to thank the two anonymous reviewers for the time and diligence they spent on a previous draft. We feel fortunate in that, based on their detailed comments, they both clearly have excellent knowledge of research that is specific to linguistic relativity in SLA. It took us a while to address each of the issues they raised, but in our view the invested time was worth it, and we hope the current version is in many ways stronger than its predecessor and that they feel that their time was well spent. Many thanks also to Julie Lawrence for countless inspiring discussions on covariation.


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Published Online: 2017-9-7
Published in Print: 2017-9-26

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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