Edited by Michael J. Leeser, Gregory D. Keating and Wynne Wong
[Studies in Bilingualism 62] 2021
► pp. 53–124
A vital part of understanding language is linking referring expressions to the appropriate antecedents. In null subject languages like Spanish, person-number inflections on verbs are essential to ensuring the appropriate connections are made. However, second language (L2) learners have limited processing capabilities (VanPatten, 1996, 2015), and may rely on strategies that steer them away from inflections. The current study examines whether first language English/L2 Spanish learners process verb inflections that signal subject shifts or if they prefer to process lexical items (i.e., overt subjects) as predicted by VanPatten’s lexical preference principle. The results of this study indicate that non-natives do not rely on inflections to link antecedents and referring expressions, and that L2 processing is facilitated by overt subject pronouns.