Detecting Small Semantic Changes: The Non-Native Advantage
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In recent years, the fields of experimental psycholinguistics and second language research have begun to overlap and in doing so, researchers have exposed several fundamental differences between native and non-native language processing. Many of the findings to date suggest that non-natives are not as efficient as natives, especially in areas such as syntactic processing. For this reason, it was hypothesised that non-natives would not be as successful as natives at utilising linguistic focus to detect small semantic changes to words across two consecutive presentations of a piece of text. In one experiment, equal numbers of native and non-native participants were tested using the text change-detection paradigm developed by Sturt, Sanford, Stewart, and Dawydiak (2004) in an attempt to investigate this assumption. The expected effect of focus in the native participants was not found, contradicting many previous published findings. Surprisingly, the results also indicate that non-natives are encoding the meaning of words at a finer level of specificity providing them with an advantage in detecting the small semantic changes.