Abstract

During normal reading, readers' perceptions of time in a narrative shift according to grammatical and semantic cues. This study investigated the extent to which second-language (L2) readers' interpretations of situations depicted in narratives are influenced by the grammatical aspect (perfective/progressive) and temporal duration (short/long) of intervening events. The study further examined whether reading fluency and L2 proficiency modulated how readers' mentally constructed the depicted situations. Thirty-one L2 learners of English and 37 English-first-language (L1) controls completed a reading comprehension task in which each of 40 stories contained a target event with an inherent endpoint, with accomplishment verbs that were described as completed or in progress, followed by a short-or long-duration event. A reading-fluency task and a cloze test were administered. While grammatical marking played a significant role for both groups of participants, grammatical aspect and event duration showed an interaction only for L2 learners. The construction of a situation was modulated for both groups by reading fluency.

Keywords

  • grammatical aspect
  • individual differences
  • narrative discourse
  • second language reading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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