Nicoletta Biondo & Luca Cilibrasi

English verbal agreement has been shown to be a particularly challenging domain in both first and second language acquisition. In this study, we tested the comprehension of sentences with masked and unmasked agreement in 16 Italian children and 36 Italian adults learning English as a second language. In the masked condition, participants were presented with verbs starting with the phoneme /s/, making the plurality of the noun ``hidden”, and leaving the comprehension of the sentence on the processing of the verb only (i.e., The elephants spill…). In the unmasked condition, the verb started with a different phoneme, which allows for comprehension to be cued by both noun and verbal features (i.e., The elephants drink…). Results show that both children and adults are better at comprehending when both features are available. These findings make a case for a preference for redundant features in L2 agreement processing by learners of English with Italian as L1.

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Biondo, Nicoletta (University of Siena)
Cilibrasi, Luca (Charles University)