CUNY Psycholinguistics Supper: Lucia Pozzan & Lila Gleitman (U. Pennsylvania)

APR 23, 2013 | 6:30 PM TO 8:00 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue




April 23, 2013: 6:30 PM-8:00 PM




Garden-path Resolution in L2 Learners and its Effects on Grammar Acquisition

Abstract: An important issue in psycholinguistics concerns the extent to which processing strategies change across development and are influenced by the maturation of cognitive and linguistic abilities. In this talk, we explore the extent to which adult second language learners differ from monolingual children and adults in their ability to revise initial interpretations and use referential cues to guide initial interpretations. In a second study, we investigate how difficulties revising initial parses may shape the ability to acquire and use grammatical information in adult learners.

The results of the first study suggest that interpreting and revising temporarily ambiguous sentences is a hard task for language learners, irrespective of age of acquisition; on the other hand, second language learners are more successful than child learners at using referential pragmatic-discourse information to drive their initial interpretations.

The results of the second study provide strong evidence that on-line processing constraints impact language acquisition. Morphological cues that arrive early in the sentence, and as such guide interpretation, are easier to learn that late-arriving cues used to revise initial interpretative commitments. Parallel performance patterns in production and comprehension indicate that parsing constraints affect grammatical acquisition.

(Joint work with John Trueswell)