Speaker: Sanako Mitsugi

Sanako Mitsugi (Ph. D. Carnegie Mellon University) is Lecturer of Japanese in the School of Languages and Cultures at University of Queensland. She is interested in the cognitive mechanisms that underlie second language acquisition and processing. More specifically, her work examines the contributions of factors including high order relationships across sentences, the ability to generate predictions, and language experience. Her articles have appeared in journals such as Applied Psycholinguistics, Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, and International Journal of Bilingualism.


In language comprehension, we can often guess what comes next in a sentence prior to the actual language input. This ability to generate a prediction on how a sentence will continue makes our comprehension rapid and robust. Recent psycholinguistic research on adult native speakers provides substantial evidence for the prevalence of predictive processing (e.g., Altmann & Mirkovic, 2009). In contrast, some studies on second-language (L2) learners support the view that L2 learners do not anticipate linguistic information during morphosyntactic processing, or at least, not to the same extent as native speakers do (for overview, see Kaan, 2014). In this talk, I will share the results from an eye-tracking experiment that tested the degree to which problems with morphosyntax extend to predictive processing using negative polarity adverbials as the testing ground. In Japanese, a verb-final language, the thrust of an utterance is reserved for the end of the sentence. Negation is expressed as a part of the sentence-final verb. Therefore, it is often unclear whether the upcoming predicate involves negative polarity. However, conversational analysis studies have shown that adverbials provide a preliminary sense of how a sentence continues, which helps interlocutors predict the course of talk and collaboratively complete each other’s sentences (Tanaka, 2001). The present study examined whether negative polarity adverbials and their dependencies can serve as predictive cues, using the visual-world paradigm. Analyses were conducted using growth curve modeling (Mirman et al., 2008), directly comparing the native-speaker and L2-learner groups. I will discuss evidence showing that while both native Japanese speakers and L2 learners integrate adverbial information in predictive processing, L2 learners were less optimal in the integration. I will also discuss possible reasons for the inefficacy in L2 predictive processing.


Social Sciences Building #24
UQ St lucia Campus