Morphological complexity (MC) is a relatively new construct in second language acquisition (SLA). After critically discussing existing approaches to calculating MC in first- and second- language acquisition research, this article presents a new operationalization of the construct, the Morphological Complexity Index (MCI). The MCI is applied in two case studies based on argumentative written texts produced by native and non-native speakers of Italian and English. Study 1 shows that morphological complexity varies between native and non-native speakers of Italian, and that it is significantly lower in learners with lower proficiency levels. The MCI is strongly correlated to proficiency, measured with a C-test, and also shows significant correlations with other measures of linguistic complexity, such as lexical diversity and sentence length. Quite a different picture emerges from Study 2, on advanced English learners. Here, morphological complexity remains constant across natives and non-natives, and is not significantly correlated to other text complexity measures. These results point to the fact that morphological complexity in texts is a function of speakers’ proficiency and the specific language under investigation; for some linguistic systems with a relatively simple inflectional morphology, such as English, learners will soon reach a threshold level after which inflectional diversity remains constant.

Morphological complexity in written L2 texts / Brezina, Vaclav; Pallotti, Gabriele. - In: SECOND LANGUAGE RESEARCH. - ISSN 0267-6583. - 35:1(2019), pp. 99-119. [10.1177/0267658316643125]

Morphological complexity in written L2 texts

PALLOTTI, Gabriele
2019

Abstract

Morphological complexity (MC) is a relatively new construct in second language acquisition (SLA). After critically discussing existing approaches to calculating MC in first- and second- language acquisition research, this article presents a new operationalization of the construct, the Morphological Complexity Index (MCI). The MCI is applied in two case studies based on argumentative written texts produced by native and non-native speakers of Italian and English. Study 1 shows that morphological complexity varies between native and non-native speakers of Italian, and that it is significantly lower in learners with lower proficiency levels. The MCI is strongly correlated to proficiency, measured with a C-test, and also shows significant correlations with other measures of linguistic complexity, such as lexical diversity and sentence length. Quite a different picture emerges from Study 2, on advanced English learners. Here, morphological complexity remains constant across natives and non-natives, and is not significantly correlated to other text complexity measures. These results point to the fact that morphological complexity in texts is a function of speakers’ proficiency and the specific language under investigation; for some linguistic systems with a relatively simple inflectional morphology, such as English, learners will soon reach a threshold level after which inflectional diversity remains constant.
2019
14-lug-2016
35
1
99
119
Morphological complexity in written L2 texts / Brezina, Vaclav; Pallotti, Gabriele. - In: SECOND LANGUAGE RESEARCH. - ISSN 0267-6583. - 35:1(2019), pp. 99-119. [10.1177/0267658316643125]
Brezina, Vaclav; Pallotti, Gabriele
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11380/1133934
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