Influence of syntactic complexity on second language prediction

Eunjin Chun, Si Chen, Shulin Liu, Wing Shan Angel Chan

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingChapter in an edited book (as author)Academic researchpeer-review


This study investigated the influence of syntactic complexity on prediction in second language (L2) processing. In a visual world eye-tracking experiment, we compared L2 listeners’ prediction while processing simple (e.g., The dancer will open/ get the present) vs. complex sentences (e.g., I know the friend of the dancer that will open/ get the present). Prediction was measured by comparing fixations to targets (e.g., present) between semantically biasing (e.g., open) vs. neutral verb (e.g., get) conditions. Results showed that L2 speakers generated predictions while processing complex as well as simple sentences. However, the prediction effect during complex sentence processing emerged somewhat later. These findings suggest that L2 prediction is influenced by syntactic complexity which can increase cognitive load during sentence processing.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPrediction in second-language processing and learning
Editors Edith Kaan, Theres Grüter
PublisherJohn Benjamins
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9789027258946
ISBN (Print)9789027209702
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

Publication series

NameBilingual Processing and Acquisition
PublisherJohn Benjamin
ISSN (Print)2352-0531


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