The processing of subject object ambiguities in native and near-native Mexican Spanish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This self-paced reading study first tested the prediction that the garden path effect previously observed during the processing of subject object ambiguities in native English would not obtain in a null subject language like Spanish. The investigation then further explored whether the effect would be evident among near-native readers of Spanish whose native language was a non-null subject language like English. Twenty-three near-native and 33 native readers of Mexican Spanish read sentences like Cuando el escultor acabó/volvió la obra tenía tres metros de altura When the sculptor finished/came back the piece was three meters in height. The results suggest that (i) Spanish differs from English for this type of processing and (ii) native and near-native processing can be guided by largely similar principles, at least where lexical information like verb transitivity is concerned.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)721-735
Number of pages15
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Mexican Spanish
  • adult language acquisition
  • bilingual sentence processing
  • self-paced reading
  • subject object ambiguities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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