This study examined how adult L2 learners make use of grammatical and extragrammatical information to interpret reflexives and pronouns. Forty adult English native speakers and 32 intermediate-advanced Korean L2 learners participated in a visual world paradigm eye-tracking experiment. We investigated the interpretation of reflexives (himself) and pronouns (him) in contexts where there is a potential coargument antecedent and in the context of picture noun phrases (a picture of him/himself), where the distribution of reflexives and pronouns can overlap. The results indicated that the learners interpreted reflexives in a nativelike fashion in both contexts, whereas they interpreted pronouns differently from native speakers, even when learners had advanced English proficiency. Adopting the binding theory as developed in the reflexivity/primitives of binding framework (Reinhart & Reuland, 1993; Reuland, 2001, 2011), we interpret these results to mean that while adult L2 learners are able to apply syntactic binding principles to assign an interpretation to anaphoric expressions, they have difficulty in integrating syntactic information with contextual and discourse information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1317-1374
Number of pages58
JournalApplied Psycholinguistics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 14 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • General Psychology


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