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Zhiying Qian – “Verb Bias and Plausibility in Native and Non-native Sentence Processing”

February 1 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm  |  Humanities 1, Room 202


The Department of Languages and Applied Linguistics is pleased to present:

“Verb Bias and Plausibility in Native and Non-native Sentence Processing”

with Zhiying Qian, Ph.D.
Florida State University


The influence of the properties of a first language (Mandarin, Korean) on the comprehension of sentences in a second language (English) was investigated in a series of self-paced reading experiments.

Experiment 1 compared advanced native Mandarin- and Korean-speaking learners of English with native English speakers on how they resolved a temporary ambiguity (e.g., The referees warned [that] the spectators would probably get too rowdy.). The temporary ambiguity concerned whether the noun (the spectator) following the verb (warned) was the direct object or the subject of an embedded clause. Results showed that both higher and lower proficiency L1-Mandarin learners could use verb bias cues, but only higher proficiency L1-Korean learners could do so, indicating that L1 word order (Mandarin SVO; Korean SOV) influences how quickly L2 learners learn word-order-dependent cues about L2 structures.

Experiment 2 added plausibility manipulation, and the results showed that neither native speakers nor L2 learners used plausibility cues, challenging the claim that L2 learners rely primarily on lexical-semantic cues during real-time sentence processing.

Experiment 3 examined how native Mandarin speakers process this type of sentence in Mandarin and showed that Mandarin speakers were sensitive to verb bias but not to plausibility, contrasting claims that Mandarin speakers rely heavily on plausibility.


February 1
5:00 pm - 6:30 pm