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The effect of syntactic complexity on fluency: Comparing actives and passives in L1 and L2 speech

Published inSecond language research, vol. 31, no. 1, p. 105-116
Publication date2015
Abstract

This study investigates how syntactic complexity affects speaking performance in first (L1) and second language (L2) in terms of speaking fluency. Participants (30 Dutch native speakers with an average to advanced level of English) performed two speaking experiments, one in Dutch (L1) and one in English (L2). Syntactic complexity was operationalized by eliciting active and passive sentences in an experimental setting. By comparing the effect of syntactic complexity on different measures of fluency, the results are telling of underlying cognitive processes in on-line speech production. We found that syntactic complexity indeed elicits hesitations, both in the L1 and in the L2. Because producing a rather simple utterance such as an active sentence may already lead to processing difficulty in the L2, the effect of syntactic complexity was found to be larger for L1 speech. Finally, articulation rate was not affected by syntactic complexity, neither in the L1 nor in the L2.

Citation (ISO format)
SADRI MIRDAMADI, Farhad, DE JONG, N. H. The effect of syntactic complexity on fluency: Comparing actives and passives in L1 and L2 speech. In: Second language research, 2015, vol. 31, n° 1, p. 105–116. doi: 10.1177/0267658314554498
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ISSN of the journal0267-6583
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