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    2018년 3월: 김은아(서울대)

The Role of Verb Argument Structure
in L2 English Sentence Processing by Korean Learners

Eunah Kim (Seoul National University)



This study examines second language (L2) sentence processing with focus on the question of whether advanced Korean learners of English immediately use verb argument structure information to compute wh-dependencies. Thirty-two Korean learners and 24 native speakers of English participated in an online implausibility detection task. Participants read English sentences region by region and indicated whether the sentences were plausible or not at each region. Two manipulated factors were the thematic fit between the wh-phrase and the Theme role assigned by the verb (e.g., I wonder which book the child read in bed at night. vs. I wonder which food the child read in bed at night.) and the argument structure of the embedded verbs (e.g., transitive verbs, dative verbs, and object control verbs). The results showed that the timing of implausibility detection by native speakers differed depending on the verb type, suggesting that native speakers immediately consider verb argument structure information in the initial stage of wh-processing as proposed by constraint-based lexicalist models (e.g., McDonald, Maryellen, Pearlmutter, & Seidenberg, 1994; cf, Frazier, 2013; Rayner, Carlson, & Frazier 1983). Korean learners also showed evidence of sensitivity to the verb argument structure information, but their ability to incorporate this information seems to be limited as compared to native speakers of English. Implications of the findings are discussed in terms of the mechanisms and strategies L2 learners resort to while processing sentences in the L2.

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