Linguistics and English Language

Bilingualism reading group

Speaker: Katerina Pantoula (University of Edinburgh)

Title: Bilingual sentence processing: Evidence from Greek which-questions

Background: Psycholinguistic research has shown that monolingual and bilingual speakers process complex syntactic sentences differently [1]. This difference has triggered controversy about the nature of developmental processing pathways in the two populations. Recent offline studies on the acquisition of syntactic dependencies revealed persistent difficulties with the comprehension of wh-questions in monolingual children. In fact, felicitous resolution of ambiguous wh-questions has been proposed to be modulated by the number and position of case-marking cues in monolingual children in German [2] and Greek [3]. To date, only one offline study has investigated how bilingual children comprehend wh-questions when mediated by the number and position of case cue [4]. Likewise, the limited real-time studies examining wh-questions processing have shown that monolingual children use the presence and position of case cue in Korean [5] and number cue in English [6] to guide ambiguity resolution. Putting the bits and pieces together, offline research provided us with patterns; yet, it does not show the processes that underlie incremental parsing.

Aims: The purpose of this study is to investigate real-time processing of wh-questions in L1-Greek/L2-English bilingual children residing in the UK with L1-Greek as their community language and L1-Greek children residing in Greece comparing Greek as community and L1-language, respectively. The aim is to eye-track the time-course of Greek which-questions in the presence of case and gender cues in L1-Greek/L2-English bilingual children.


  1. Marinis, T., Roberts, L., Felser, C., & Clahsen, H. (2005). Gaps in second language sentence processing. SSLA, 27(1), 53-78. doi:10.1017/S0272263105050035
  2. Roesch, A. D., & Chondrogianni, V. (2015). The use of case in the comprehension of wh-questions in German-speaking children with and without SLI. In C. Hamann & E. Ruigendijk (Eds.), Proceedings of GALA 2013 (pp. 379-402). Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars.
  3. Varlokosta, S., Nerantzini, M., & Papadopoulou, D. (2015). Comprehension asymmetries in language acquisition: a test for Relativized Minimality. JCL, 42(3), 618-661. doi:10.1017/S0305000914000257
  4. Roesch, A. D., & Chondrogianni, V. (2016). “Which mouse kissed the frog?” Effects of age of onset, length of exposure, and knowledge of case marking on the comprehension of wh-questions in German-speaking simultaneous and early sequential bilingual children. JCL, 43(3), 635-661. doi:10.1017/S0305000916000015
  5. Choi, Y., & Trueswell, J. C. (2010). Children’s (in)ability to recover from garden paths in a verb-final language: Evidence for developing control in sentence processing. JECP, 106(1), 41-61. doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2010.01.003
  6. Contemori, C., Carlson, M., & Marinis, T. (2018). On-line processing of English which-questions by children and adults: a visual world paradigm study. JCL, 45(2), 415-441. doi:10.1017/S0305000917000277
  7. Chondrogianni, V., & Schwartz, R. G. (2014). Visual World Paradigm: Animal triplets picture-selection task. CUNY.


Please contact Lihua Xia or Martha Robinson to find out specific dates for this semester and/or to be added on the mailing list.

Lihua Xia

Martha Robinson


Apr 30 2018 -

Bilingualism reading group

2018-04-30: Bilingual sentence processing: Evidence from Greek which-questions

Room S38, Psychology Building, 7 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9JZ