Salience-based vs. exposure-based strategies in L2 pronoun resolution in French

TitreSalience-based vs. exposure-based strategies in L2 pronoun resolution in French
Publication TypeCommunication
Année de publication2016
Authorsde la Fuente, Israel, Sarah Schimke, Sascha Kuck, Barbara Hemforth, and Saveria Colonna
Titre de la conférenceArchitectures and Mechanisms of Human Language Processing
Date de publication09/2016

We investigated pronoun resolution strategies in French native speakers and in German L2-learners of French. French and German differ in antecedent preferences in ambiguous constructions such as ?The postman hit the pirate before he went home?: while French shows a N2-preference, which is explained by the availability of a construction that unambiguously refers to N1, German, which does not have this alternative, shows a N1-preference. 
In questionnaires, we tested French active and passive sentences to investigate (a) whether the L2-learners would apply the same strategy as natives in the active condition (i.e. N2-preference), and (b) whether the explicit topicalization of a referent as a consequence of passivization influences interpretation preferences in both groups (resulting in more N1 choices). 
The results show that German learners continue to apply the L1 strategy in the L2, preferring the N1 significantly more often than the French natives in the active condition (57% vs. 23%). Crucially, the number of N1 choices increased significantly in both groups in the passive condition (74% vs. 62%). These results support salience-based strategies in L1 and L2 pronoun resolution and suggest that L2-learners might have difficulty acquiring strategies based on the frequency and availability of alternative constructions in the L2.