Attachment Preferences of L2 Learners in a Production Task

Hadi Maghsoud


This study investigated whether L2 learners of English process sentences semantically or syntactically when they are
engaged in production rather than comprehension. Thirty-four Persian speaking second language learners of English
across two proficiency levels participated in a production task which involved completing sentences such as Andy
shot the man with… with a determiner phrase (DP) of their own choice. In majority of cases, the participants across
both proficiency levels supplied DPs that were semantically related to the verb (i.e., semantic-based processing). The
findings are argued to support the constraint-based theories and shallow structure hypothesis.

Full Text:




Altmann, G., & Steedman, M. (1988). Interaction with context during human sentence processing. Cognition, 30, 191-238.

Branigan, H. P., Pickering, M. J., & McLean, J. F. (2005). Priming prepositional-phrase attachment during comprehension. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 31, (3), 468–481.

Britt, M. A., Perfetti, C. A., Garrod, S., & Rayner, K. (1992). Parsing in discourse: context effects and their limits. Journal of Memory and Language, 31, 293-314.

Clahsen, H., & Felser, C. (2006). How native-like is non-native language processing? TRENDS in Cognitive Sciences, 10(12), 564-570.

Felser, C., Roberts, L., Marinis, T., & Gross, R. (2003). The processing of ambiguous sentences by first and second language learners of English. Applied Psycholinguistics, 24, 453–489.

Ferreira, F., & Clifton, C. (1986). The independence of syntactic processing. Journal of Memory and Language, 25, 348-368.

Frenck-Mestre, C., & Pynte, J. (1997). Syntactic ambiguity resolution while reading in second and native languages. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 50A, 119–148.

Hopp, H. (2006). Syntactic features and reanalysis in near-native processing. Second Language Research, 22(3), 369-397.

Jackson, C. N. & Dussias, P. E. (2009). Cross-linguistic differences and their impact on L2 sentence processing. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 12 (1), 65 – 82.

Maghsoud, H. (in press). Prepositional Phrase Attachment Global Ambiguity Resolution in Semantically Biased and Neutral Conditions by L2 learners. International Journal of English Language Teaching.

McDonald, J. (2006). Beyond the critical period: Processing-based explanations for poor grammaticality judgement performance by late second language learners. Journal of Memory and Language, 55, 381–401.

Papadopoulou, D. (2006). Cross-linguistic variation in sentence processing: Evidence from RC attachment from Greek. Dordrecht: Springer.

Papadopoulou, D., & Clahsen, H. (2003). Parsing strategies in L1 and L2 sentence processing: A study of relative clause attachment in Greek. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 25, 501-528.

Rah, A., & Adone, D. (2010). L2 learners’ processing of PP attachment ambiguities: A production study. Selected Proceedings of the 2008 Second Language Research Forum, ed. Matthew T. Prior et al., 139-149.

Tanenhaus, M. K., Spivey-Knowlton, M. J., Eberhard, K. M., & Sedivy, J. C. (1995). Integration of visual and linguistic information in spoken language comprehension. Science, 268 (5217), 1632-1634.

Trueswell, J. C., Tanenhaus, M. K., & Garnsey, S. M. (1994). Semantic influences on parsing: Use of thematic role information in syntactic ambiguity resolution.

Witzel, J., Witzel, N., & Nicol, J. (2012). Deeper than shallow: Evidence for structure-based parsing biases in second-language sentence processing. Applied Psycholinguistics, 33, 419-456.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

International Journal of English Language Teaching     ISSN 2329-7913 (Print)   ISSN 2329-7921 (Online)

Copyright © Sciedu Press

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the '' and ‘’ domains to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', please check your 'spam' or 'junk' folder.