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Language as product and process

What mechanisms and strategies form the basis for advanced competence in translation and foreign language processing? The SPROSS project investigates this question using process and product data.

About the project

We study the processing of translations and foreign language production - in view of the assumption that two languages are active simultaneously and disturb production.

The SPROSS project investigates cross-linguistically divergent system issues that either appear to be particularly hard to keep apart or cause non-optimal, often over-explicit production units, whether in (advanced) foreign language production or translation into L1. Relevant topics concern lexical divergence/convergence, such as for example false friends, as much as structural similarities and differences.


1. The translation process:

We study competence in the sense of automatization of re-organization/re-structuring strategies. Our studies are based on behavioral data elicited in experimental settings with eye tracking and keylogging (Translog II, see CRITT@kent) and e-prime ( Our aim is to describe mechanisms and strategies that are in particular need of training for professional competence. Through close studies of behavioral data we hope to get Insights that may guide us to establish relevant ways to regulate the activation of each of the Languages involved in the translation task.

We are at present working on three linguistically interesting topics:

Procedural topics:

  • Possessives in English-Scandinavian contrast - only partly overlapping systems. Extended to other European Languages.
  • Gerund-participial structures in English, the inferences and strategies needed to arrive at idiomatic solutions in Norwegian.

Conceptual topic:

  • Optional and obligatory explicitation in novice-professional contrast.


2017: DOG: Eye tracking and keylogging 24 informants while translating. English-Norwegian. See CRITT@kent.

2019: Norwegian literature and literature translated into Norwegian 1945-55 and 2000-2010. 30 million words. In cooperation with the Norwegian National Library, Lars Johnsen.


2. Advanced Foreign Language competence, the POSS-project

This Project has as its key goal to study the ability to restructure and automatize foreign language knowledge. We focus on the different systems of possessive pronouns and determiners across Languages (see also topic a) in sub-Project 1). The different systems are found to represent Challenges in L2 production and comprehension, even with highly proficient L2 speakers.

The investigation is psycholinguistic. An overview of the different systems in a number of (Germanic, Romance and Slavic) languages is submitted for publication (OsLa 2017). We test native and non-native speakers' command of the systems, and have so far conducted preliminary tests on German learners of Norwegian and Norwegian learners of French. Psycholinguistic tests are being developed using eye tracking in a Visual World Experiment. This experiment will be conducted on selected groups of L2 learners in order for us to get a better understanding of learners' automatization of the cognitive restructuring needed for native-like responses to the language data.


Workshop 1: 13 -15 September 2017 University of Oslo

Workshop 2: 11-13 March 2019 University of Oslo:

Pitz, A.P and Fabricius-Hansen: Grammaticality judgments and interpretation tests for No1Ge2 learners: results and revision of test material

Stachowiak, K. and Behrens,B.: Interpreting between unequal systems: An experiment on the processing og possessives English-Polish interpreters.

Helland, H.P. Norwegian learners of French: judgment on possessives.

Lectures and conference papers:

Behrens, B.2016. The translation task - what's holding the translator up?. First South African Inter-University Translation and Interpreting Conference; 10-13 October

Behrens, B. 2016. Researching procedural information in translation: an evaluation. Research Visit, Universidade federal de Minas Gerais, Brasil. November.

Behrens, B. 2018. Access to internalized grammar in L2 production and translation. Lecture presented at IATIS, Hong Kong.July.

Bott, O.2017: Sprachtransfer versus generelle Lernereffekte:Der späte Zweitspracherwerb von Reflexivität in Abhängigkeit des muttersprachlichen grammatischen Systems. Habilitation colloquium, Philosophical Faculty, University of Tübingen

Fabricius-Hansen. C. 2016 Possessivpronomina. Sprachspezifische Systeme – sprachenpaarspezifische Herausforderungen im Fremdspracherwerb. Guest lecture  Technische Universität Dortmund Germany. May.

Fabricius-Hansen. C. 2017  Possessive pronouns from a cross-linguistic and L2-oriented perspective. Guest lecture, Lund University, Sweden. November.

Helland, H.P.2017. L'acquisition des possessifs.  Nordic Romanistic Conference; August 


Bergljot Behrens, Cathrine Fabricius-Hansen & Anneliese Pitz. 2021. Processing possessives in French as a foreign language: Design of an experiment. In OSLa 12/2: 5–24.

Cathrine Fabricius-Hansen (ed.). 2021. Resolving Possessive Puzzles. = OSLa 12/2.

Cathrine Fabricius-Hansen, Anneliese Pitz & Bergljot Behrens. 2021.Possessive parasitter eller parasittiske possessiver? In OSLa 12/1: 21–38.

Cathrine Fabricius-Hansen, Anneliese Pitz & Henrik Torgersen. 2021. Lexical interference in non-native resolution of possessives? In OSLa 12/2: 25–64.

Barbara Mertins. 2021. On the interpretation of possessives in Czech: An experimental approach. In OSLa 12/2: 97–125

Katarzyna Stachowiak-Szymczak & Bergljot Behrens. 2021. Processing possessives in simultaneous interpreting from English to Polish. In OSLa 12/2: 65–96.

Behrens, B. 2017. Processing possessives in translation between unequal systems. An exploratory Study. Oslo Studies in Language 9(2): 105-136.

Behrens, B; Pitz,A.P; Helland, H.P; Fabricius-Hansen, C.2017. Introduction to Possessives in L2 and translation: basic principles and empirical findings. Oslo Studies in Language 9(2):1-2.

Fabricius-Hansen, Cathrine; Helland, Hans Petter; Pitz, Anneliese Pauline.2017.An L2 perspective on possessives: Contrasts and their possible consequences. Oslo Studies in Language, 9.(2): 3-39.

Helland, H.P. 2017. An empirical L2 perspective on possessives: French/Norwegian. Oslo Studies in Language 9(2):75-104.

Helland, H.P. 2018.Complexité et fréquence : l’acquisition des structures possessives. Synergies Pays Scandinaves 13. pp37-50.

Helland, H.P. 2018.Les possessifs en contraste. I: Comparatio delectat III. Akten der VIII. Internationalen Arbeitstagung zum romanisch-deutschen und innerromanischen Sprach­vergleich,. Peter Lang. ISBN 978-3-631-76803-7. pp.97-113.

Helland, H.P. 2019.La notion de transfert appliquée au français comme langue étrangère. Arena Romanistica (to appear)

Pitz, A.P; Behrens, B; Bott, O; Solstad,T; Hörnig,R; Fabricius-Hansen,C. 2017. An empirical L2 perspective on possessives. German-Norwegian.Oslo Studies in Language 9(2):41-74.

Published Apr. 18, 2016 10:57 AM - Last modified Aug. 19, 2021 10:18 AM