Morphological congruency and the acquisition of L2 morphemes

Nan Jiang, Eugenia Novokshanova, Kyoko Masuda, Xin Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


The present study examined the proposal that the presence of a similar morpheme in the learner's first and second languages (L2) facilitates morphological development in the L2. Advanced Russian and Japanese speakers of English as a second language performed a self‐paced reading task in which they read English sentences word by word for comprehension. Russian participants showed a reliable sensitivity to plural errors, but Japanese participants did not. The findings supported the morphological congruency hypothesis. A theoretical proposal is put forward to explain how morphological congruency affects L2 morpheme acquisition. The findings and the proposal are relevant to the discussion of the critical period hypothesis, ultimate attainment in L2, and the characterization of L2 competence of steady‐state adult L2 learners.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)940-967
Number of pages28
JournalLanguage Learning
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • self-paced reading
  • plural
  • Russian
  • Japanese
  • morphological development
  • morphological congruency
  • grammaticalized meanings
  • ultimate attainment
  • steady state


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