Coreference and discourse coherence in L2: The roles of grammatical aspect and referential form

Theres Gruter, Hannah Rohde, Amy Schafer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Discourse-level factors, such as event structure and the form of referential expressions, play an important role in native speakers’ referential processing. This paper presents an experiment with Japanese- and Korean-speaking learners of English, investigating the extent to which discourse-level biases that have gradient effects in L1 speakers are also implicated in L2 speakers’ coreference choices. Results from a story continuation task indicate that biases involving referential form were remarkably similar for L1 and L2 speakers. In contrast, event structure, indicated by perfective versus imperfective aspect, had a more limited effect on L2 speakers’ referential choices. The L2 results are discussed in light of existing accounts of L1 reference processing, which assume that referential choices are shaped by speakers’ continually updated expectations about what is likely to be mentioned next, and argued to reflect L2 speakers’ reduced reliance on expectations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-229
JournalLinguistic Approaches to Bilingualism
Issue number2
Early online date4 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • reference
  • aspect
  • pragmatics
  • expectation
  • adult L2 acquisition


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