Verbs of motion and sentence production in second language

Stanislava Antonijević, Sarah Berthaud

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The current study examines production of sentences in which verbs of motion were used. Participants that were either French or English native speakers produced sentences in their second language (L2). Importantly, English is said to be dominantly manner framed while French is dominantly path framed language. This means that in English verbs of motion mainly carry information about manner in which action is performed while path is described by the syntactic frame (e.g. John walked up the hill). In French verbs of motion describe the path of motion while the manner can be added by a prepositional phrase (e.g. John ascends the hill by walking). Sentence production was elicited using custom made pictures that showed the action and all arguments of the verb. The results indicated that speakers of either language use the structures of their first language to produce sentences in the second language. Because manner framed verbs are much more flexible in the type of syntactic frame they permit native English speakers were more successful in applying this strategy to French verbs. As path framed verbs are not as flexible French speakers made many errors trying to use English verbs as if they were path framed. In addition to the type of language another important characteristic for sentence production was animacy of the sentence subject.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of Fechner Day
Subtitle of host publicationproceedings of the 25th Annual Meeting of the International Society for Psychophysics, Galway, Ireland, October 21-24, 2009
PublisherInternational Society for Psychophysics
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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