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Publications & Presentations
Shadrova, Anna; Lindscheid, Pia; Lukassek, Julia; Lüdeling, Anke; Schneider, Sarah (2021) A Challenge for Contrastive L1/L2 Corpus Studies: Large Inter- and Intra-Individual Variation Across Morphological, but Not Global Syntactic Categories in Task-Based Corpus Data of a Homogeneous L1 German Group In: Frontiers in Psychology [DOI] [PDF] [ViVo]In this paper, we present corpus data that questions the concept of native speaker homogeneity as it is presumed in many studies using native speakers (L1) as a control group for learner data (L2), especially in corpus contexts. Usage-based research on second and foreign language acquisition often investigates quantitative differences between learners, and usually a group of native speakers serves as a control group, but often without elaborating on differences within this group to the same extent. We examine inter-personal differences using data from two well-controlled German native speaker corpora collected as control groups in the context of second and foreign language research. Our results suggest that certain linguistic aspects vary to an extent in the native speaker data that undermines general statements about quantitative expectations in L1. However, we also find differences between phenomena: while morphological and syntactic sub-classes of verbs and nouns show great variability in their distribution in native speaker writing, other, coarser categories, like parts of speech, or types of syntactic dependencies, behave more predictably and homogeneously. Our results highlight the necessity of accounting for inter-individual variance in native speakers where L1 is used as a target ideal for L2. They also raise theoretical questions concerning a) explanations for the divergence between phenomena, b) the role of frequency distributions of morphosyntactic phenomena in usage-based linguistic frameworks, and c) the notion of the individual adult native speaker as a general representative of the target language in language acquisition studies or language in general.