Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton April 29, 2022

Rule-based or efficiency-driven processing of expletive there in English as a foreign language

  • Yu Tamura ORCID logo EMAIL logo , Junya Fukuta ORCID logo , Yoshito Nishimura ORCID logo and Daiki Kato

Abstract

Although native speakers (NSs) of English make plural agreement in preverbal-subject sentences (e.g., A pen and eraser *is/are…), previous studies have demonstrated that they prefer singular – not plural – agreement between verbs and conjoined noun phrases (NPs) in expletive there constructions (e.g., there is/are a pen and an eraser…), showing efficiency-driven processing prioritization of agreement between nearest constituents. This paper assesses whether Japanese L2 learners of English (JLE) show this tendency. The results of two self-paced reading experiments together indicated that even though efficiency-driven processing was available to L2 learners, their use was unstable due to the repeated exposure to there are NPpl- and NPpl-type sentences during the task. It seems possible that repeated exposure triggered learners’ knowledge that conjoined NPs are always plural. Hence, it could conceivably be hypothesized that a learner’s specific knowledge intervenes the efficiency-driven processing strategy.


Corresponding author: Yu Tamura, Faculty of Foreign Language Studies, Kansai University, 3-3-35, Yamate-cho, 564-8680, Suita, Osaka, Japan, E-mail:

Award Identifier / Grant number: JP2013123

Appendix

All the stimuli are available at the following URL: https://osf.io/gz6q8/.

References

Bates, Douglas, Martin Maechler, Ben Bolker & Steven Walker. 2019. lme4: Linear mixed-effects models using Eigen and S4 [R package version 1.1-21]. Available at: https://cran.rproject.org/package=lme4.Search in Google Scholar

Bock, Kathryn & Carol A. Miller. 1991. Broken agreement. Cognitive Psychology 23(1). 45–93.10.1016/0010-0285(91)90003-7Search in Google Scholar

Bock, Kathryn & Kathleen M. Eberhard. 1993. Meaning, sound and syntax in English number agreement. Language and Cognitive Processes 8. 57–99. https://doi.org/10.1080/01690969308406949.Search in Google Scholar

Clahsen, Harald & Claudia Felser. 2006a. Continuity and shallow structures in language processing. Applied Psycholinguistics 27(1). 107–126. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0142716406060206.Search in Google Scholar

Clahsen, Harald & Claudia Felser. 2006b. Grammatical processing in language learners. Applied Psycholinguistics 27(1). 3–42. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0142716406060024.Search in Google Scholar

Clahsen, Harald & Claudia Felser. 2006c. How native-like is non-native language processing? Trends in Cognitive Sciences 10(12). 564–570. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2006.10.002.Search in Google Scholar

Clahsen, Harald & Claudia Felser. 2018. Some notes on the Shallow Structure Hypothesis. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 40(3). 693–706. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263117000250.Search in Google Scholar

Corbett, Greville G. 2000. Number. Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9781139164344Search in Google Scholar

Crawford, William J. 2005. Verb agreement and disagreement: A corpus investigation of concord variation in existential there + be constructions. Journal of English Linguistics 33. 35–61. https://doi.org/10.1177/0075424204274001.Search in Google Scholar

Deevy, P. Lynn. 1999. The comprehension of English subject-verb agreement. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Amherst PhD dissertation.Search in Google Scholar

De Rosario-Martinez, Helios. 2015. phia: Post-hoc interaction analysis [R package version 0.2-1]. Available at: https://cran.rproject.org/package=phia.Search in Google Scholar

Ellis, Rod. 2004. The definition and measurement of L2 explicit knowledge. Language Learning 54. 227–275. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9922.2004.00255.x.Search in Google Scholar

Fine, Alex B., T. Florian Jaeger, Thomas A. Farmer & Tian Qian. 2013. Rapid expectation adaptation during syntactic comprehension. PLOS ONE 8(10). e77661. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0077661.Search in Google Scholar

Foote, Rebecca & Kathryn Bock. 2012. The role of morphology in subject–verb number agreement: A comparison of Mexican and Dominican Spanish. Language and Cognitive Processes 27. 429–461. https://doi.org/10.1080/01690965.2010.550166.Search in Google Scholar

Gibson, Edward. 1998. Linguistic complexity: Locality of syntactic dependencies. Cognition 68. 1–76. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0010-0277(98)00034-1.Search in Google Scholar

Grodner, Daniel, Edward Gibson & Susanne Tunstall. 2002. Syntactic complexity in ambiguity resolution. Journal of Memory and Language 46. 267–295. https://doi.org/10.1006/jmla.2001.2808.Search in Google Scholar

Haskell, Todd R. & Maryellen C. MacDonald. 2005. Constituent structure and linear order in language production: Evidence from subject-verb agreement. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 31. 891–904. https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-7393.31.5.891.Search in Google Scholar

Heycock, Caroline & Roberto Zamparelli. 2005. Friends and colleagues: Plurality, coordination, and the structure of DP. Natural Language Semantics 13. 201–270. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11050-004-2442-z.Search in Google Scholar

Insua, Ana E. Martinez & Ignacio M. P. Martinez. 2003. A corpus-based approach to non-concord in present day English existential there-constructions. English Studies 84. 262–283. https://doi.org/10.1076/enst.84.3.262.16852.Search in Google Scholar

JACET Basic Words Revision Committee (ed.). 2003. JACET list of 8000 basic words (JACET8000). Tokyo: JACET.Search in Google Scholar

Jackson, Carrie N., Elizabeth Mormer & Laurel Brehm. 2018. The production of subject–verb agreement among Swedish and Chinese second language speakers of English. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 40. 907–921. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263118000025.Search in Google Scholar

Jiang, Nan. 2004. Morphological insensitivity in second language processing. Applied Psycholinguistics 25. 603–634. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0142716404001298.Search in Google Scholar

Jiang, Nan. 2007. Selective integration of linguistic knowledge in adult second language learning. Language Learning 57. 1–33. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9922.2007.00397.x.Search in Google Scholar

Jiang, Nan, Eugenia Novokshanova, Kyoko Masuda & Xin Wang. 2011. Morphological congruency and the acquisition of L2 morphemes: Morphological congruency. Language Learning 61(3). 940–967. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9922.2010.00627.x.Search in Google Scholar

Jiang, Nan, Guiling Hu, Anna Chrabaszcz & Lijuan Ye. 2017. The activation of grammaticalized meaning in L2 processing: Toward an explanation of the morphological congruency effect. International Journal of Bilingualism 21(1). 81–98. https://doi.org/10.1177/1367006915603823.Search in Google Scholar

Johannessen, Janne Bondi. 1996. Partial agreement and coordination. Linguistic Inquiry 27. 661–676. https://doi.org/10.2307/4178956.Search in Google Scholar

Lenth, Russell. 2021. emmeans: Estimated marginal means, aka least-squares means [R package version 1.60]. Available at: https://cran.r-project.org/package=emmeans.Search in Google Scholar

Lim, Jung Hyun & Kiel Christianson. 2015. Second language sensitivity to agreement errors: Evidence from eye movements during comprehension and translation. Applied Psycholinguistics 36. 1283–1315. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0142716414000290.Search in Google Scholar

Linck, Jared A. & Ian Cunnings. 2015. The utility and application of mixed-effects models in second language research. Language Learning 65. 185–207. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12117.Search in Google Scholar

Lo, Steson & Sally Andrews. 2015. To transform or not to transform: Using generalized linear mixed models to analyse reaction time data. Frontiers in Psychology 6. 1171. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01171.Search in Google Scholar

Lorimor, Heidi. 2007. Conjunctions and grammatical agreement when wholes differ from the sums of their parts. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.Search in Google Scholar

Milsark, Gary L. 1979. Existential sentences in English. NY: Garland.Search in Google Scholar

Morgan, Jerry L. 1984. Some problems of determination in English number agreement. In Gloria Alvarez, Belinda Brodie & Terry McCory (eds.), Proceedings of the Eastern States Conference on Linguistics, 69–78. Ohio State University.Search in Google Scholar

Munn, Alan. 1999. First conjunct agreement: Against a clausal analysis. Linguistic Inquiry 30. 643–668. https://doi.org/10.1162/002438999554246.Search in Google Scholar

O’Grady, William. 2005. Syntactic carpentry: An emergentist approach to syntax. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Search in Google Scholar

O’Grady, William & Yoshie Yamashita. 2002. Partial agreement in second-language acquisition. Linguistics 40. 1011–1019. https://doi.org/10.1515/ling.2002.034.Search in Google Scholar

Sato, Mikako & Claudia Felser. 2010. Sensitivity to morphosyntactic violations in English as a second language. Second Language 9. 101–118.Search in Google Scholar

Schlueter, Zoe, Shota Momma & Lau Ellen. 2017. No grammatical illusion with L2-specific memory retrieval cues in agreement processing. Poster at the 30th annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing, Cambridge, MA, March 30–April 1.Search in Google Scholar

Schütze, Carson T. 1999. English expletive constructions are not infected. Linguistic Inquiry 30. 467–484. https://doi.org/10.1162/002438999554156.Search in Google Scholar

Shibuya, Mayumi & Shigenori Wakabayashi. 2008. Why are L2 learners not always sensitive to subject-verb agreement? EUROSLA Yearbook 8. 235–258. https://doi.org/10.1075/eurosla.8.13shi.Search in Google Scholar

Silva, Renita & Harald Clahsen. 2008. Morphologically complex words in L1 and L2 processing: Evidence from masked priming experiments in English. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 11(2). 245–260. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728908003404.Search in Google Scholar

Sobin, Nicholas. 1997. Agreement, default rules, and grammatical viruses. Linguistic Inquiry 28. 318–343.Search in Google Scholar

Song, Yoonsang. 2015. L2 processing of plural inflection in English. Language Learning 65(2). 233–267. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12100.Search in Google Scholar

Tamura, Yu, Junya Fukuta, Yoshito Nishimura & Daiki Kato. 2021. L2 learners’ number agreement in the expletive there constructions: Conjoined NP always plural? Reports of 2020 Studies in The Japan Association for Language Education and Technology, Chubu Chapter, Fundamentals of Foreign Language Educational Research Special Interest Group (SIG), 2–23.Search in Google Scholar

Wen, Zhijun, Mari Miyao, Aya Takeda, Wei Chu & Bonnie D. Schwartz. 2010. Proficiency effects and distance effects in nonnative processing of English number agreement. In Katie Franich, Kate M. Iserman & Lauren L. Keil (eds.), Proceedings of the 34th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, 445–456. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.Search in Google Scholar

Supplementary Material

The online version of this article offers supplementary material (https://doi.org/10.1515/iral-2021-0156).

Received: 2021-08-17
Accepted: 2022-03-31
Published Online: 2022-04-29
Published in Print: 2023-11-27

© 2022 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

Downloaded on 27.2.2024 from https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/iral-2021-0156/pdf
Scroll to top button