Frequency effects on first and second language compositional phrase comprehension and production

Authors

ผศ.ดร.สรุจ ศุภศิรประภา

Published

Applied Psycholinguistics

Abstract

Usage-based approaches to language acquisition posit that first (L1) and second language (L2) speakers should process more frequent compositional phrases, which have a meaning derivable from word parts, faster than less frequent ones (e.g., Bybee, 2010; Ellis, 2011). Although this prediction has received increasing empirical support, methodological limitations in previous relevant studies include a lack of control of frequencies of subparts of target phrases and scant attention to L2 production. Addressing these limitations, the current study tested phrase frequency effects in both language comprehension and production in two respective experiments, in which adult native English speakers (N = 51) and English L2 learners (N = 52) completed a timed phrasal decision task and an elicited oral production task. Experiment 1 revealed phrase frequency effects in both groups, lending support to usage-based researchers’ proposal that L1 and L2 speakers retain memory of word co-occurrences and that compositional phrase processing reflects an accumulation of statistics in previously encountered input. Experiment 2, however, provided weaker evidence for phrase frequency effects in these participant groups. Based on the results and previous empirical studies, methodological issues that may have impacted frequency effects and implications for future work in this area are discussed.

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