This paper reports on an investigation into the morphosyntactic processing of second language (L2) learners who differ in terms of language learning experience. The chief area of interest was the relationship of L2 learning patterns and experience to the acquisition of automatized processing skills in the morphological domain. English- and Russian-native speakers of Hebrew as L2 were assessed on their sensitivity to complex morphological structures which do not exist in their respective native languages (L1). The Hebrew word formation rule which was the focus of investigation was the affixation of prepositions to nouns, resulting in single words which are also full prepositional phrases. In both English and Russian, prepositions and nouns in prepositional phrases must be autonomous. Participants named high frequency words of one (e.g., /parah/ ‘cow’) and three morphemes (e.g., /bakis/ ‘in the pocket’), which were presented in a control condition and also presented in conditions which either preserved or disrupted the natural morpheme boundaries through the manipulation of font-size. In addition to the experimental measure, participants were also asked to read an expositional passage from a popular Israeli newspaper. Results showed that the Russians, although significantly more accurate than the English speakers at text reading, were significantly less accurate and slower than the English at the naming task, and less impaired by the experimental manipulations. The results are discussed in terms of automaticity, print exposure and age of L2 acquisition.
Reading and Writing – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 15, 2004
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