Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Processing formulaic sequences by native and nonnative speakers of English: Evidence from reading aloud
by Han, Sumi, Ph.D., Northern Arizona University, 2015, 264; 3706358
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation study investigated the extent to which formulaic sequences that were manipulated for mutual information (MI; the strength of co-occurrence) and congruency (the existence of equivalent forms between languages) are holistically stored and processed in reading aloud by Korean learners of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) as well as English native speakers. Despite the claims made for the role of formulaic sequences (e.g., idioms, collocations, and lexical bundles) in saving processing effort as ready-made chunks, little is known about second language (L2) on-line processing (Siyanova-Chanturia & Martinez, 2014).

To advance our understanding of this research domain, a read-aloud task was developed and administered to the two language groups of students in lab-based, individual settings. A total of 225 spoken verb-noun sequences were used as stimuli: 180 collocations and 45 noncollocations. A total of 12 collocation sets contained 15 items each (high vs. low MI; congruent vs. incongruent; high, mid, and low frequency bands), and 3 noncollocation sets contained 15 items from each of the three frequency bands. The numbers of letters and syllables, the whole sequence frequency, and the bigram frequency were matched across the sets. Using DMDX (Forster & Forster, 2003), the read-aloud task was administered to each participant who read aloud each sequence as quickly and accurately as possible. A translation task of the target stimuli was additionally administered to the L2 speakers so that only known stimuli were included in the analyses. Linear mixed-effects models (LMMs) were used to answer the overarching question: Are advanced Korean learners of English likely to process collocations and noncollocations in the same ways native speakers?

Results of the analyses showed that: (a) the L2 group as well as the L1 group read the collocations more slowly than the noncollocations; (b) MI level had no effect on both group’s collocation processing; (c) congruency had no effect on L2 students’ collocation processing; and (d) using LMMs to analyze the read-aloud time data was challenging but powerful. It was concluded that, when reading aloud, collocations were not holistically stored or retrieved based on a comparison with noncollocations. A few potential factors, such as experimental tasks, types of formulaic sequences, or semantic transparency, which could affect the processing, were also discussed. The dissertation concludes by providing implications, limitations, and suggested venues for future research.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Jamieson, Joan, Grabe, William
Commitee: Kang, Okim, Lee, Yong-Won
School: Northern Arizona University
Department: English
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 76/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics, English as a Second Language, Educational psychology, Reading instruction, Language
Keywords: Collocation processing, Congruency, Formulaic sequence, Linear mixed-effects models, Mutual information, Reading aloud
Publication Number: 3706358
ISBN: 978-1-321-80109-5
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