Complementiser ‘That’ Insertions in Subject – Embedded Subject Response Constructions by Dutch Learners of English
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This paper examines the use of the complementiser that by Dutch L2 learners of English. In English, the complementiser that can be left out of a sentence without compromising the grammaticality, unlike in Dutch, where the complementiser must be inserted. Two experiments were conducted in which participants from two proficiency levels were shown a hypothetical scenario and were asked to respond to a question. Their responses were primed to allow for the insertion of the complementiser that. Whether or not their answer contained the complementiser that was counted and analysed. The participants had to construct an answer from either their own, or the researcher’s point of view (e.g. I think (that) you are happy / You think (that) I am happy). The analysis of the data from Experiment 1 showed a significant difference between the two proficiency groups, as participants from the low-proficiency group inserted the complementiser more than those from the high-proficiency group. Experiment 2 controlled for a concern in Experiment 1, as the question construction contained an optional complementiser that. The complementiser was omitted from the question, which may have influenced the participants from omitting it also. The issue was dealt with in Experiment 2 by altering the question formulation. The change did not result in any significant difference compared to the results of Experiment 1.