This study investigates the processing of long-distance syntactic dependencies by native speakers of Slovenian (L1) who are advanced learners of Italian as a second language (L2), compared with monolingual Italian speakers. Using a self-paced reading task, we compare sensitivity of the early-acquired L2 learners to syntactic anomalies in their L2 in two empirical domains: (1) syntactic islands, for which the learners’ L1 and L2 grammars provide a converging characterization, and (2) verb–clitic constructions, for which the respective L1 and L2 grammatical descriptions diverge. We find that although our L2 learners show native-like processing patterns in the former, converging, grammatical domain, they may nevertheless perform non-native-like with respect to syntactic phenomena in which the L1 and L2 grammars do not align, despite the early age of L2 acquisition. Implications for theories of L2 acquisition and endstate are discussed.
Stepanov, Arthur, Andreetta, Sara, Stateva, Penka, Zawiszewski, Adam, Laka, Itziar. Anomaly detection in processing of complex syntax by early L2 learners. Second language research. 2020, 36(3). 371-397.