Speaker: Seth Wiener (Carnegie Mellon University)
Title: Knowledge-based processing and acoustic-based processing in a second language
Abstract: Knowledge-based processing plays a vital role in L1 and L2 acquisition. Through statistical learning of a language’s sound patterns, listeners make lexical predictions, in part, as a way to cope with inter-speaker variability and ambiguity. Probability-based processing, however, can lead to incorrect predictions, which require a listener to revise initial processing in order to achieve correct perception based on the acoustic input. This revision process is cognitively demanding and thus may challenge early L2 learners. This talk examines these issues in the context of L2 phonological, lexical, and sentence processing. I present research using the visual world paradigm to assess these issues in adult second language learners. In the first half of the talk I will present evidence from a series of artificial language learning studies that examine how speaker variability impacts the revision of incorrect probability-based predictions in early L2 learners. In the second half of the talk I will share results from an ongoing series of Mandarin Chinese sentence processing studies that demonstrate how advanced L2 learners, like native speakers, integrate contextual knowledge outside the sentence with morphosyntactic cues within the sentence. Together, these studies suggest that L2 processing not only involves perception of acoustic information, but also integration of language-specific and language-independent knowledge as a means of overcoming variability and ambiguity in the input.
Room B.01, Dugald Stewart Building, 3 Charles Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AD