Laurent Dekydtspotter

Laurent Dekydtspotter

Professor, French and Italian

Professor, Second Language Studies

Chair, Second Language Studies

Adjunct Professor, Linguistics

Adjunct Professor, Germanic Studies


  • Ph.D., Linguistics, Cornell University, 1995
  • M.A., TESOL/Linguistics, Washington State University, 1989
  • M.A., English, Universit√© Catholique de l'Ouest, 1987
  • B.A., English, Universit√© Catholique de l'Ouest, 1985

Research areas

  • Development of interpretive knowledge: phrasal semantics, lexical semantics and grammatically computed pragmatic inferences
  • Sentence processing: information integration in L2 processing

About Laurent Dekydtspotter

I am interested in second language learners' knowledge of the interpretations available to a sentence that are not grammatical in the learner's native language and in the precise manner in which second language learners interpret sentences of the target language input, with special interest in the integration of information from context, pragmatics, prosody, semantics and syntax.

Not all ways of combining words together have the same interpretive consequences.Aspects of one's semantic intuitions results from the way in which one goes about building the sentence. A string of experiments suggests that second language acquisition is channeled by the type of constraints that determine interpretation in native systems.The reason for the focus on processing is that not all ways of combining information together have the same consequences for language understanding.

In a string of experiments, I have investigated the extent to which context can override syntactic information in the manner in which second language learners perceive sentences. Results so far suggest a deep structural reflex in second language acquirers of French. This threatens the notion that second language learners do not process sentences as deeply as natives, relying on lexical and contexual information instead.

Selected publications

  • Dekydtspotter, L. & A. K. Miller. (2013) Inhibitive and facilitative priming induced by traces in the processing of wh-dependencies in a second language. Second Language Research, 29, (currently available at OnlineFirst, doi:10.1177/0267658312467030).
  • Dekydtspotter, L. Wang, Y.-T. Kim, B., Kim, H-J., Kim, H.-K. & Lee, J.-K. (2012) Anaphora under Reconstruction during Processing in English as a Second Language. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 34, 561–590.
  • Darcy, I., Dekydtspotter, L., Sprouse, R. A., Scott, J. H.G., Glover, J., McGuire, M., & Kaden, C. (2012) Direct Mapping of Acoustics to Phonology: On the lexical encoding of front round vowels in L1 English-L2 French acquisition. Second Language Research, 28, 1–36.
  • Dekydtspotter, Laurent (2009) Second Language Epistemology, Take Two. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 31,291-321.
  • Dekydtspotter, Laurent & Claire Renaud. (2009) On the contrastive analysis of features in second language acquisition: Uninterpretable gender on past participles in English–French processing. Second Language Research, 25, 251–263.
  • Dekydtspotter, Laurent, Bryan. Donaldson, Amanda. C. Edmonds, Audrey Liljestrand Fultz & Rebecca A. Petrush (2008) Syntax and prosodic computations in the resolution of relative clause attachment ambiguity by English-French learners. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 30, 453–480.
  • Dekydtspotter, Laurent & Jon Hathorn (2005) Quelque chose (...) de remarquable in English-French Acquisition: Mandatory, Informationally Encapsulated Computations in Second Language Interpretation. Second Language Research, 21, 291-323.
  • Dekydtspotter, Laurent & Samantha Outcalt (2005) A Syntactic Bias in Scope Ambiguity Resolution in the Processing of English-French Cardinality Interrogatives: Evidence for Informational Encapsulation. Language Learning,1, 1-37.
  • Dekydtspotter, Laurent, Rex A. Sprouse and Kimberly Swanson (2001) "Reflexes of the Mental Architecture in Second Language Acquisition: The Interpretation of Discontinuous Combien Extractions in English-French Interlanguage. Language Acquisition, 9, 175-227.
  • Dekydtspotter, Laurent (2001) The Universal Parser and Interlanguage: Domain-Specific Mental Organization in the Comprehension of Combien Interrogatives in English-French Interlanguage. Second Language Research, 17, 93-145.
  • Dekydtspotter, Laurent & Rex A. Sprouse (2001) Mental Design and (Second) Language Epistemology: Adjectival Restrictions of Wh-Quantifier and Tense in English-French Interlanguage. Second Language Research, 17, 1-35.
  • Dekydtspotter, Laurent, Rex A. Sprouse and Rachel Thyre (1999/2000 ) The Interpretation of Quantification at a Distance in English-French Interlanguage: Domain-Specificity and Second Language Acquisition. Language Acquisition, 8, 265-320.
  • Dekydtspotter, Laurent, Rex A. Sprouse & Bruce Anderson (1998) Interlanguage A-bar Dependencies: Binding Construals, Null Prepositions and Universal Grammar. 1998. Second Language Research, 14, 341-358.
  • Dekydtspotter, Laurent, Rex A. Sprouse & Bruce Anderson (1997) The Interpretive Interface in L2 Acquisition: the Process-Result Distinction in English-French Interlanguage Grammars. Language Acquisition, 6, 297-332.

Courses taught

  • Introduction to French Semantics
  • Introduction to French Phonology
  • Advanced French Syntax
  • Introduction to French Syntax
  • Advanced Grammar and Composition
  • Phonetics and Pronunciation
  • Structure and Development of French
  • Topics in the Learning and Teaching of French: Issues of Acquisition

Honors, fellowships, & awards

  • Teaching Excellence Recognition Award (TERA), 1999