Integrating meaning and structure in L1-L2 and L2-L1 translations

Jung Hyun Lim, Kiel Christianson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examined the integration of semantic and morphosyntactic information by Korean learners of English as a second language (L2). In Experiment 1, L2 learners listened to English active or passive sentences that were either plausible or implausible and translated them into Korean. A significant number of Korean translations maintained the original passive/active structure, but switched the thematic roles of the actors in the sentences. In Experiment 2, the direction of translation was reversed and participants made very few translation errors, showing that the errors in Experiment 1 were not due to participants' lack of control over the English passive morphosyntax. The results are strikingly similar to previous results in the first language (L1) psycholinguistics literature, and support a view of L2 processing (like L1 processing) that is 'good enough' in nature: misinterpretations arise from only a 'good enough' integration of semantic and morphosyntactic information in the input.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-256
Number of pages24
JournalSecond Language Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • Good-enough processing
  • integration of syntax and meaning
  • L2 psycholinguistics
  • L2 sentence processing
  • L2 sentence translation
  • translation paradigm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Education


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