From the perspective of first language performance, Pawley & Syder (1983) posed two puzzles for language theory; how come we talk as fast as we do, and why do we all pick the same ways to express ourselves? They suggested that the answer was to do with way words are stored and processed as chunks rather than single items, and thereby challenged the prevailing Chomskyan notion that utterances are processed as grammatical frameworks with lexical dressings. An obvious feature of second language use is that it resembles something which is in fact processed this way, i.e. that it can be both perfectly grammatical and very odd, indicating that the learner has good grammatical knowledge but a lexicon of largely single choice items.
This presentation will report on a study exploring how well proficient users of L2 English could distinguish nativelike from unnativelike selections, and the extent to which this ability might be determined by age of onset, motivation or aptitude.
About the English Language Research seminars
The ELR seminars are a long-running weekly research seminar series within the Department of English, English Language and Applied Linguistics Division. The seminars are aimed primarily at staff, postgraduate students, and academic visitors in the department, but everyone with an interest in language research is welcome! Seminars are usually held on Tuesdays during term time, starting at 4:15 and finishing around 5:30.