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V2 word order in first, second and third language production and comprehension

Culture and languages

Susan Sayehli from Stockholm University visits the lunch seminar on multilingualism and Swedish as a second language.


Department of Swedish


There is ample evidence that word order is a problematic domain in second language (L2) usage, in particular the production of verb-second (V2) word order. Despite this body of research we still do not know to what extent this difficulty is modulated by cross-linguistic influence, i.e whether a similar word order in the first (L1)  or any other previously learnt language facilitates production and comprehension of V2 word order in the L2 and how these structures are dealt with in L1 and L2 processing. In this talk, I will examine these questions with data from studies examining V2 production and comprehension in first, second and third languages using both behavioral (e.g. elicited imitations and acceptability judgements) and neurocognitive measures (event-related potentials, ERP). Results suggest that cross-linguistic influence can facilitate processing neurologically even when not discerned behaviorally. Also, L1 processing of V2 word order seems to be more varied than previously reported. Implications of these findings will be discussed for theories of crosslinguistic influence.