International Journal of Applied Linguistics

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Volume 29 Issue 2 (July 2019), Pages 159-282

Measuring linguistic complexity in long‐term L2 speakers of English and L1 attriters of German (pages 173-191)

Linguistic complexity is neither easily defined nor measured. The challenge in finding reliable ways to measure linguistic complexity is even more pronounced when the variation of contexts in which complexity is measured is taken into account. This paper therefore aims at finding measures for assessing syntactic and lexical complexity that are sensitive and non‐overlapping even in a less frequently studied context: spontaneous speech of L1 attriters and highly proficient L2 English speakers. To evaluate operationalizations of syntactic and lexical complexity, several previously proposed measures are applied to a corpus of spontaneous speech and a principal component analysis is conducted. The results show which of the measures group together as underlying variables of syntactic and lexical complexity and how this can inform future operationalizations of complexity.

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