We are pleased to announce the next HL2C/SLLAT seminar, taking place on Thursday 9th June 2022, from  3pm to 4pm (Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London).


João Veríssimo (University of Lisbon)


L2 morphological processing reveals the internal differentiation of the language system

How to join:

Our seminars are free to attend. Simply sign up to the HL2C Mailing List to receive the link to join us via Microsoft Teams link. You do not need a Teams account to access the talk.


Two broad perspectives have been advanced to account for observed differences between L1 and L2 speakers in attainment and processing. In one view, such differences are fundamental and possibly selective, with particular parts of the language system becoming hard or impossible for late learners to acquire in a native-like way – likely due to maturation. In another view, L1-L2 contrasts can be attributed to general factors, such as slower processing speed or amount of exposure, and are expected to be more gradient in nature, as well as more general in scope. In this talk, I will present results from experiments and meta-analyses examining the L2 processing of morphology, as a test case for these larger perspectives.

Our results indicate that differences between L1 and L2 speakers show remarkable selectivity and are restricted to specific parts of the morphological processing system (e.g., inflection, conjugation clases); in contrast, other sub-domains of morphology (e.g., word formation) can be processed in a native-like way, even when the L2 was acquired later in life. At the same time, the observed L1-L2 differences were often found to be gradient rather than all-or-none, for example, becoming more pronounced at later ages of acquisition. This suggests that a full account of L2 processing may require models that can accommodate gradient levels of nonnative-likeness and morphological constituency, while nevertheless respecting the internal differentiation of the language system.