This paper presents the results of experiments that compared relative clause processing in L2 speakers of Mandarin and English. Using a self-paced reading task, the processing of sentences containing subject-gap and object-gap relative clauses was examined. The results found that both L2 groups experienced theoretically-predicted relative clause gap site effects, namely, the L2 Mandarin group processed subject-gap relative clauses more slowly, and the L2 English group processed object-gap relative clauses more slowly. Detailed analysis revealed that the processing slowdown for subject-gap clauses in the Mandarin L2 group occurred at the relative clause verb, argument and head, and that in the English L2 group, processing slowdown for the object-gap clauses occurred at the relative clause verb. These results are explained as being due to the high processing cost of integrating a filler and gap, and by assuming that L2 speakers have particular difficulty keeping an antecedent active in memory when processing a long-distance dependency.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||Journal of the Chinese Language Teachers Association|
|State||Published - 2008|