Picture from Copenhagen Language Center

Broken Grammar and Beyond

“Every day texts is full with grammatically anomalies”. Grammatical anomalies are defined as cases of atypical convention-breaking grammar, e.g. atypical usage of word order, grammatical words, derivations and inflections. Grammatical anomalies both occur in texts produced by native speakers and by second language learners. In some cases, grammatical anomalies result in miscomprehension of the text, in some cases they impact the recipient’s reading speed, and in other cases they are not even noticed. 

The research project Broken Grammar and Beyond (BGB) investigates what types of grammatical anomalies we produce in texts and how these texts are read and understood by others. Which grammatical anomalies are the most frequent, which affect reading speed, and which cause the most problems when it comes to understanding the message?

The project Broken Grammar & Beyond runs from 2018-2021 and is funded by Independent Research Fund Denmark, the Sapere Aude-programme. Read IRFD's description of the project (in Danish).

We compare the types and frequencies of grammatical anomalies in texts produced by native speakers of Danish to those produced by second language learners of Danish. By means of controlled reading experiments, we investigate how language users understand texts with different types of grammatical anomalies – and by means of neuroimaging we investigate the neural underpinnings of understanding language. This research is, among other things, relevant to language teachers and language professionals. It increases awareness of what makes a text readable, and it points to types of grammar that are challenging to language learners.

Broken Grammar and Beyond aims to develop a usage-based and neurocognitively grounded language processing model. The model will take into account that grammar is a complex phenomenon expressed through e.g. word order, case and gender of nouns, and that not all of these affect comprehension in the same way.