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1. Schlenter, Judith. Predictive language processing in late bilinguals.

Degree: PhD, 2019, Universität Potsdam

The current thesis examined how second language (L2) speakers of German predict upcoming input during language processing. Early research has shown that the predictive abilities of L2 speakers relative to L1 speakers are limited, resulting in the proposal of the Reduced Ability to Generate Expectations (RAGE) hypothesis. Considering that prediction is assumed to facilitate language processing in L1 speakers and probably plays a role in language learning, the assumption that L1/L2 differences can be explained in terms of different processing mechanisms is a particularly interesting approach. However, results from more recent studies on the predictive processing abilities of L2 speakers have indicated that the claim of the RAGE hypothesis is too broad and that prediction in L2 speakers could be selectively limited. In the current thesis, the RAGE hypothesis was systematically put to the test. In this thesis, German L1 and highly proficient late L2 learners of German with Russian as L1 were tested on their predictive use of one or more information sources that exist as cues to sentence interpretation in both languages, to test for selective limits. The results showed that, in line with previous findings, L2 speakers can use the lexical-semantics of verbs to predict the upcoming noun. Here the level of prediction was more systematically controlled for than in previous studies by using verbs that restrict the selection of upcoming nouns to the semantic category animate or inanimate. Hence, prediction in L2 processing is possible. At the same time, this experiment showed that the L2 group was slower/less certain than the L1 group. Unlike previous studies, the experiment on case marking demonstrated that L2 speakers can use this morphosyntactic cue for prediction. Here, the use of case marking was tested by manipulating the word order (Dat > Acc vs. Acc > Dat) in double object constructions after a ditransitive verb. Both the L1 and the L2 group showed a difference between the two word order conditions that emerged within the critical time window for an anticipatory effect, indicating their sensitivity towards case. However, the results for the post-critical time window pointed to a higher uncertainty in the L2 group, who needed more time to integrate incoming information and were more affected by the word order variation than the L1 group, indicating that they relied more on surface-level information. A different cue weighting was also found in the experiment testing whether participants predict upcoming reference based on implicit causality information. Here, an additional child L1 group was tested, who had a lower memory capacity than the adult L2 group, as confirmed by a digit span task conducted with both learner groups. Whereas the children were only slightly delayed compared to the adult L1 group and showed the same effect of condition, the L2 speakers showed an over-reliance on surface-level information (first-mention/subjecthood). Hence, the pattern observed resulted more likely from L1/L2 differences than from… Advisors/Committee Members: Felser, Claudia (advisor), Lago, Sol (advisor), Felser, Claudia (referee), GrĂ¼ter, Theres (referee).

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APA (6th Edition):

Schlenter, J. (2019). Predictive language processing in late bilinguals. (Doctoral Dissertation). Universität Potsdam. Retrieved from

Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):

Schlenter, Judith. “Predictive language processing in late bilinguals.” 2019. Doctoral Dissertation, Universität Potsdam. Accessed September 21, 2019.

MLA Handbook (7th Edition):

Schlenter, Judith. “Predictive language processing in late bilinguals.” 2019. Web. 21 Sep 2019.


Schlenter J. Predictive language processing in late bilinguals. [Internet] [Doctoral dissertation]. Universität Potsdam; 2019. [cited 2019 Sep 21]. Available from:

Council of Science Editors:

Schlenter J. Predictive language processing in late bilinguals. [Doctoral Dissertation]. Universität Potsdam; 2019. Available from: