High Attachment in Thai Learners’ Processing of English Relative Clauses

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Jie Wang
Pornsiri Singhapreecha


Resolution to ambiguity imposed by English relative clauses (RC) was examined with Thai EFL students in this study. Offline experimental items included two-site context NPs, i.e., NP1 of NP2 (Complex NP of) and NP1 with NP2 (Complex NP with) modified by RCs. As NP1 and NP2 occupy higher and lower positions in the hierarchical structure of a complex NP, RC attachment to NP1 and NP2 are termed High Attachment (HA) and Low Attachment (LA). It was hypothesized that the RC would be attached to NP1 in the Complex NP of, and NP2 in the Complex NP with, based on the Thai L1 strategy and the universal properties of thematic prepositions, respectively. Three proficiency levels, i.e., beginning, intermediate, and upper-intermediate, were established for the participants. The results confirmed both predictions. In addition, there were a rise and decline across the three proficiency levels in the employment of HA for the Complex NP of and a continuous and significant increase in the employment of LA for the Complex NP with. Overall, this study suggests the influence of an L1 strategy and the development of an L2 strategy in the absence of a corresponding L2 structure, in association with L2 employment of thematic information.


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Wang, J., & Singhapreecha, P. (2022). High Attachment in Thai Learners’ Processing of English Relative Clauses. LEARN Journal: Language Education and Acquisition Research Network, 15(2), 263–299. Retrieved from https://so04.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/LEARN/article/view/259930
Research Articles
Author Biographies

Jie Wang, School of European-American Languages and Cultures, Guangxi University of Foreign Languages, China

A faculty member at Guangxi University of Foreign Languages, Nanning, Guangxi, China. Her research interests lie in second language acquisition and English language teaching.

Pornsiri Singhapreecha, Language Institute, Thammasat University, Thailand

Professor of Linguistics at the Language Institute of Thammasat University. Her areas of research are syntactic theory, second language acquisition (within the generative model), and L1 and L2 processing.


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