An Eye-tracking Study on Chinese EFL Learners’ Mental Processing of English Neg-Raising Constructions
This study explores the Chinese EFL learners’ mental processing mechanism of English Neg-Raising Constructions with the syntactic mark reading paradigm. 60 Neg-Raising sentences, with different contexts (neutrals, Strong Negative Polarity Items, Verb Phrase Ellipsis) and sentence lengths, were processed to be marked, randomly marked, and unmarked. The eye-tracking data for reading the whole sentences and the area of interest, including total duration of fixations, average duration of fixations, and number of fixations were gathered. According to the data, we can find that the total duration of fixations and average duration of fixations of sentences with syntactic marking are significantly smaller than sentences without syntactic marking. This shows that the syntactic movement marking can improve Chinese EFL learners’ reading comprehension efficiency of NR sentences. In addition, the results show that the total duration of fixations, average duration of fixations and number of fixations of Verb Phrase Ellipsis and Strong Negative Polarity Items are significantly reduced after syntactic marking, indicating that readers need to rely on them to understand and analyze sentences, activate the syntactic movement operation, and complete disambiguation and processing of sentences in the unmarked condition. Moreover, comparing the eye-movement data for the sensitive components in the two contexts, we find that all three eye-movement indicators in the Verb Phrase Ellipsis context are significantly smaller than those in the Strong Negative Polarity Items context, and the changes in the eye-movement indicators in the Verb Phrase Ellipsis context were also smaller than those in the Strong Negative Polarity Items context. Therefore, the dependence on the contextual-sensitive components in Verb Phrase Ellipsis is less than that in Strong Negative Polarity Items, and the influence of the syntactic mark for the latter is greater than the former, indicating that the activation effect of the syntactic mark in the context of Strong Negative Polarity Items is more significant.