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“Bread and butter” or “butter and bread”? Nonnatives’ processing of novel lexical patterns in context

Sonbul, Suhad; El-Dakhs, Dina Abdel Salam; Conklin, Kathy; Carrol, Gareth


Suhad Sonbul

Dina Abdel Salam El-Dakhs

Gareth Carrol


Little is known about how non-native speakers process novel language patterns in the input they encounter. The present study examines whether non-natives develop a sensitivity to novel binomials and their ordering preference from context. Thirty-nine non-native speakers of English (L1 Arabic) read three short stories seeded with existing binomials (black and white) and novel ones (bags and coats) while their eye movements were monitored. The existing binomials appeared once in their forward (conventional) form and once in their reversed form. The novel binomials appeared in their experimentally defined forward form in different frequency conditions (two vs. four encounters) and once in the reversed form. Results showed no advantage for existing binomials over their reversed forms. For the novel binomials, the non-native speakers read subsequent encounters significantly faster than initial ones for both frequency conditions. More importantly, the final reversed form also led to faster reading, suggesting that L2 speakers process the reversed form of a novel binomial as another encounter, ignoring the established order.


Sonbul, S., El-Dakhs, D. A. S., Conklin, K., & Carrol, G. (2022). “Bread and butter” or “butter and bread”? Nonnatives’ processing of novel lexical patterns in context. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 1-23.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 27, 2022
Online Publication Date Jun 22, 2022
Publication Date Jun 22, 2022
Deposit Date Jun 27, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jun 29, 2022
Journal Studies in Second Language Acquisition
Print ISSN 0272-2631
Electronic ISSN 1470-1545
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 1-23
Keywords binomials, L2, processing, eye-tracking, formulaic language, multiword sequence
Public URL
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Additional Information Copyright: © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press


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