The Processing of English caused-motion construction by EFL learners


  • Rodrigo Rosa Faculdade Cultura Inglesa



Language processing, EFL learners, caused-motion constructions, acceptability judgement task


This article investigates the processing of English caused-motion constructions by Brazilian EFL learners. Drawing on corpus data on the production of such constructions by Brazilian learners, this study experimentally tests the four following constructional domains of caused motions discussed in Rosa (2020): (1) literal caused motions with instantiating verbs (e.g., put the toys into the box); (2) figurative caused motions with instantiating verbs (e.g., get yourself in trouble); (3) literal caused motions with modifying verbs (e.g., they laughed him out of the office); and (4) figurative caused motions with modifying verbs (e.g., she talked me into stupor). An acceptability judgment task with 120 EFL Brazilian learners at two levels of proficiency (B2 and C1) was devised so as to investigate the development of caused motions by testing two aspects and their effect on the comprehension of the structure: (1) level of proficiency, and (2) the degree of linguistic complexity of the structures in question. The results of the experimental study showed that learners’ proficiency level does affect their comprehension of the structures. However, the linguistic complexity of the structures seems to play an even greater role in that learners exhibit a descending level of comprehension of caused motions that is proportional with the ascending level of semantic and syntactic complexity of the structures.


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