Transfer and Bias in Norwegians’ Judgments of Word Order in L2 English
Keywords:transfer, bias, residual optionality, V2, Signal Detection Theory
This study investigates transfer of V2 relative to certain adverbs in L1 Norwegian L2 English speakers of intermediate/advanced proficiency. Previous research has found transfer of V2 word order, especially relative to adverbs in elementary school children (i.e., beginners) (Westergaard 2002, 2003) as well as in highschoolers (Dahl et al. 2022; Listhaug et al. 2021). However, the question remains whether this tendency persists in intermediate/advanced adult speakers. The present study uses Acceptability Judgment Tasks (AJTs) to investigate the presence of V2 transfer in this speaker group. The use of AJTs to investigate transfer is complicated by the fact that there is sometimes talk of L2 users having a yes-bias (Romano and Guijarro-Fuentes 2023). In this study, I investigate the presence of such a bias in AJTs, and whether the emergence of a bias is potentially impacted by access to metalinguistic knowledge. I conducted two AJTs where access to metalinguistic knowledge differed. I used Signal Detection Theory (Bader and Häussler 2010) to get a measure of participants’ sensitivity (d’) and their decision criterion to investigate the presence of bias. The results revealed a clear no-bias in both experiments, suggesting we cannot always assume a yes-bias in L2 users. No detectable transfer of V2 relative to adverbs was found in this group of L2 users, whose performance was at ceiling. Furthermore, as the only way to detect V2 transfer in the data was for speakers to accept ungrammatical structures, any potential presence thereof may have been masked by this salient no-bias.
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