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L1 and L2 language processing in written production and perception: Null objects in English, Portuguese and Spanish.

L1 and L2 processing in written production and perception: Null objects in English, Portuguese and Spanish.


  • Rocio Ramirez Maraver

Summary, in English

This thesis studies the processing of null objects in the L2 English of two groups with a similar L1 background, Brazilian Portuguese and European Spanish native speakers. Previous research (Alamillo, 2009; Sainzmaza-Lecanda & Schwenter, 2017) reported similarities and contrasts in the two languages regarding null object expression. However, research on null objects lacks a fuller perspective that considers both production and perception processes, on the one hand; and more studies in L2 English, on the other. Especially considering the languages above.
The present study focuses on both language production and perception of null objects, by assessing null object expressions, pauses and revisions in production; and acceptability and reaction times in perception. To do so, 40 participants (23 L1 Brazilian Portuguese and 17 L1 European Spanish speakers) were recruited online, and two elicitation tasks were designed. The data was analyzed for differences between the groups in both their L1 and L2. The results indicated that the L1 Portuguese and the L1 Spanish speakers exhibit a somewhat different processing of null objects in L2 English. Overall, the L1 Portuguese speakers displayed processing difficulties in both tasks, whereas the L1 Spanish speakers showed more difficulties in perception. Despite these differences, both groups presented similarities in the number of pauses, revisions and characters during the production of null objects as well as in the acceptability rate of grammatical null objects in English.
When compared with models of written production and perception, both groups spent more time in the translating and reviewing steps of written production. In perception, the L1 Spanish speakers processed English null objects more native-like than the L1 Portuguese speakers.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)


  • Languages and Literatures


  • L2 sentence processing
  • transfer
  • cross-linguistic influence
  • null object
  • clitic pronoun
  • writing production
  • language perception
  • keystroke logging


  • Victoria Johansson (Fil Dr)