Open AccessArticle
Does Typological Proximity Really Matter? Evidence from Mandarin and Brazilian Portuguese-Speaking Learners of Spanish
Languages 2018, 3(2), 13; doi:10.3390/languages3020013 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
The present study examines the role of typological proximity in the acquisition of Differential Object Marking (DOM) in Spanish among eighteen (n = 18) Mandarin-speaking second language (L2) learners and sixteen (n = 16) Spanish heritage speakers (HSs) with Brazilian Portuguese
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The present study examines the role of typological proximity in the acquisition of Differential Object Marking (DOM) in Spanish among eighteen (n = 18) Mandarin-speaking second language (L2) learners and sixteen (n = 16) Spanish heritage speakers (HSs) with Brazilian Portuguese (BP) as their dominant language. Specifically, we investigate the extent to which language proximity (languages are members of the same family) plays a role in the complete specification of the relevant features constraining DOM marking in Spanish. Results from an elicited production task and an acceptability judgment task (AJT) showed no support for the typological proximity model (Rothman 2010). There were also no age of onset of acquisition effects, in contrast to what was expected. The post-puberty Mandarin L2 learners outperformed the BP HSs in most of the conditions examined, suggesting a role for language instruction. Results are discussed along the lines of Liceras and Alba de la Fuente’s (2015) proposal whereby the locus of transfer is more related to the typological similarity between the languages at the microparametric level than to language proximity itself. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The Mixed Effects of Phonetic Input Variability on Relative Ease of L2 Learning: Evidence from English Learners’ Production of French and Spanish Stop-Rhotic Clusters
Languages 2018, 3(2), 12; doi:10.3390/languages3020012 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
We examined the consequences of within-category phonetic variability in the input on non-native learners’ production accuracy. Following previous empirical research on the L2 acquisition of phonetics and the lexicon, we tested the hypothesis that phonetic variability facilitates learning by analyzing English-speaking learners’ production
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We examined the consequences of within-category phonetic variability in the input on non-native learners’ production accuracy. Following previous empirical research on the L2 acquisition of phonetics and the lexicon, we tested the hypothesis that phonetic variability facilitates learning by analyzing English-speaking learners’ production of French and Spanish word-medial stop-rhotic clusters, which differ from their English counterparts in terms of stop and rhotic voicing and manner. Crucially, for both the stops and rhotics, there are differences in within-language variability. Twenty native speakers per language and 39 L1 English-learners of French (N = 20) and Spanish (N = 19) of intermediate and advanced proficiency performed a carrier-sentence reading task. A given parameter was deemed to have been acquired when the learners’ production fell within the range of attested native speaker values. An acoustic analysis of the data partially supports the facilitative effect of phonetic variability. To account for the unsupported hypotheses, we discuss a number of issues, including the difficulty of measuring variability, the need to determine the extent to which learners’ perception shapes intake, and the challenge of teasing apart the effects of input variability from those of transferred L1 articulatory patterns. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The Interpretation of Pronouns across Spanish-Speaking Populations
Languages 2018, 3(2), 11; doi:10.3390/languages3020011 -
Abstract
In this paper, we will present data from both Spanish acquisition and aphasia on the Pronoun Interpretation Problem (PIP), according to which children allow pronouns to be identified with local c-commanding antecedents. Although it has recently been claimed that the PIP is, to
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In this paper, we will present data from both Spanish acquisition and aphasia on the Pronoun Interpretation Problem (PIP), according to which children allow pronouns to be identified with local c-commanding antecedents. Although it has recently been claimed that the PIP is, to a great extent, an experimental artifact, there are good reasons to believe that there is something “real” in the effect. As with many phenomena from acquisition, researchers have tried to explain this development in terms of “learning”, or more concretely, in terms of “parameter setting”. Children either must set the right local domain for the application of Principle B or they must set a +/− Principle B parameter. However, considering the PIP as an acquisition problem is problematic since it is difficult to see how children can converge on the target grammar without negative evidence. In this paper, we will defend an alternative approach, according to which the PIP is portrayed as the result of interplay between properties of predicates and different kinds of pronouns on the one hand, and language processing factors on the other. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Language Mixing in the Nominal Phrase: Implications of a Distributed Morphology Perspective
Languages 2018, 3(2), 10; doi:10.3390/languages3020010 -
Abstract
This paper investigates a pattern found in Spanish–English mixed language corpora whereby it is common to switch from a Spanish determiner to an English noun (e.g., la house, ‘the house’), but rare to switch from an English determiner to a Spanish noun
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This paper investigates a pattern found in Spanish–English mixed language corpora whereby it is common to switch from a Spanish determiner to an English noun (e.g., la house, ‘the house’), but rare to switch from an English determiner to a Spanish noun (e.g., the casa, ‘the house’). Unlike previous theoretical accounts of this asymmetry, that which is proposed here follows assumptions of the Distributed Morphology (DM) framework, specifically those regarding the relationship between grammatical gender and nominal declension class in Spanish. Crucially, and again in contrast to previous accounts, it is demonstrated that this approach predicts no such asymmetry for French–English. This hypothesis is tested experimentally using an acceptability judgment task with self-paced reading, and as expected, no evidence is found for an asymmetry. This experiment is also used to test predictions regarding how English nominal roots in mixed nominal phrases are assigned grammatical gender, and the impact of language background factors such as age of acquisition. Evidence is found that bilinguals attempt to assign analogical gender if possible, but that late sequential bilinguals have a stronger preference for this option than do simultaneous bilinguals. Full article
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Open AccessEditorial
Languages Will Apply a Double-Blind Review Process
Languages 2018, 3(2), 9; doi:10.3390/languages3020009 -
Abstract
Peer review is an essential part in the publication process, and ensures that Languages maintains high quality standards for its published papers [...]
Full article
Open AccessArticle
Language Control and Code-switching
Languages 2018, 3(2), 8; doi:10.3390/languages3020008 -
Abstract
Analyses of corpus-based indices of conversational code-switching in bilingual speakers predict the occurrence of intra-sentential code-switches consistent with the joint activation of both languages. Yet most utterances contain no code-switches despite good evidence for the joint activation of both languages even in single
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Analyses of corpus-based indices of conversational code-switching in bilingual speakers predict the occurrence of intra-sentential code-switches consistent with the joint activation of both languages. Yet most utterances contain no code-switches despite good evidence for the joint activation of both languages even in single language utterances. Varying language activation levels is an insufficient mechanism to explain the variety of language use. We need a model of code-switching, consistent with the joint activation of both languages, which permits the range of language use in bilingual speakers. I treat overt speech as the outcome of a number of competitive processes governed by a set of control processes external to the language networks. In a conversation, the speech of the other person may “trigger” code-switches consistent with bottom-up control. By contrast, the intentions of the speaker may act top-down to set the constraints on language use. Given this dual control perspective, the paper extends the control process model (Green and Wei 2014) to cover a plausible neurocomputational basis for the construction and execution of utterance plans in code-switching. Distinct control states mediate different types of language use with switching frequency as a key parameter in determining the control state for code-switches. The paper considers the nature of these states and their transitions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Monosyllabic Place Holders in Child Acquisition of Spanish as a Second Language
Languages 2018, 3(1), 7; doi:10.3390/languages3010007 -
Abstract
Monosyllabic place holders (MPHs) have been studied extensively in first-language (L1) acquisition of Spanish and other Romance languages. However, the study of MPHs in second-language (L2) acquisition, both by children and adults, has received much less attention. This study provides evidence for the
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Monosyllabic place holders (MPHs) have been studied extensively in first-language (L1) acquisition of Spanish and other Romance languages. However, the study of MPHs in second-language (L2) acquisition, both by children and adults, has received much less attention. This study provides evidence for the presence of MPHs in the L2 Spanish of two L1 Moroccan Arabic children living in Spain. The age difference between the children (10;9 for Rachida and 6;10 for Khalid) allows us to address the issue of whether the younger child would use MPHs, as is the case in L1 acquisition. However, what the data show is that both children used MPHs, although Khalid’s MPH rate was slightly higher than Rachida’s. Therefore, based on these findings we argue that MPHs can constitute a strategy available for all child learners of Spanish. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
On Recursive Modification in Child L1 French
Languages 2018, 3(1), 6; doi:10.3390/languages3010006 -
Abstract
This paper investigates nominal recursive modification (RM) in the L1 acquisition of French. Although recursion is considered the fundamental property of human languages, recursive self-embedding is found to be difficult for children in a variety of languages and constructions. Despite these challenges, the
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This paper investigates nominal recursive modification (RM) in the L1 acquisition of French. Although recursion is considered the fundamental property of human languages, recursive self-embedding is found to be difficult for children in a variety of languages and constructions. Despite these challenges, the acquisition of RM proves to be resilient; acquirable even under severely degraded input conditions. From a minimalist perspective on the operations of narrow syntax, recursive embedding is essentially the application of a sequence of Merge operations (Chomsky 1995; Trotzke and Zwart 2014); therefore, given the universality of Merge, we do not expect to find cross-linguistic differences in how difficult recursion is. But if the challenging nature of recursion stems from factors which might differ from language to language, we expect different outcomes cross-linguistically. We compare new data from French to existing English data (Pérez-Leroux et al. 2012) in order to examine to what extent language-specific properties of RM structures determine the acquisition path. While children’s production differs significantly from their adult’s counterparts, we find no differences between French-speaking and English-speaking children. Our findings suggest that the challenging nature of recursion does not stem from the grammar itself and that what shapes the acquisition path is the interaction between universal properties of language and considerations not specific to language, namely computational efficiency. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Adult Word Learning as a Function of Neighborhood Density
Languages 2018, 3(1), 5; doi:10.3390/languages3010005 -
Abstract
Previous studies exploring the influence of neighborhood density (ND) during adult word learning have largely relied on tasks designed for young, preliterate children. In order to examine effects of ND on adult word learning during an ecologically valid task, eight nonwords varying in
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Previous studies exploring the influence of neighborhood density (ND) during adult word learning have largely relied on tasks designed for young, preliterate children. In order to examine effects of ND on adult word learning during an ecologically valid task, eight nonwords varying in neighborhood density (4 dense, 4 sparse) were taught to 50 typical adults in the context of a lecture. Half of the participants (n = 25) were solely exposed to the phonological forms of the nonwords, while the other half of the participants (n = 25) were exposed to both the phonological forms and orthographic representations. Results indicated that participants who only heard the nonwords learned more dense words than sparse words, similar to prior work. However, participants who heard as well as saw the nonwords learned dense words and sparse words to a similar degree, in addition to overall greater learning of sparse words. Thus, learning of sparse words can improve when orthographic information supplements the phonological information. An account of working memory is re-visited to interpret the results related to auditory and visual processing during lexical acquisition. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Measuring the Effectiveness of Writing Center Consultations on L2 Writers’ Essay Writing Skills
Languages 2018, 3(1), 4; doi:10.3390/languages3010004 -
Abstract
With the international growth of English-medium education, tertiary institutions are increasingly providing academic support services to L2 students, and thus, the number of writing centers working with L2 student writers has also increased. Writing center practices originated in L1 English educational contexts and
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With the international growth of English-medium education, tertiary institutions are increasingly providing academic support services to L2 students, and thus, the number of writing centers working with L2 student writers has also increased. Writing center practices originated in L1 English educational contexts and their appropriateness for L2 English writers requires examination. This study investigated the effect of writing center consultations on the essay writing skills of L1 Arabic foundation level students at an English-medium university in the Gulf region. Analysis was based on quantitative measures of writing ability of two distinct groups of students: an experimental group who participated in tutoring sessions at the university’s writing center and a control group who did not. Findings indicated that students who participated in writing center consultations scored significantly higher in overall essay writing scores, as well as in two aspects of writing: task fulfilment (that is ideas) and text organization/coherence. These findings contribute to a limited bank of similar empirical studies on effectiveness of writing center sessions on students’ essay writing ability. They also support the case for the expansion of writing center work beyond the domains of predominantly L1 English academic communities. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Clausal Coordination in Gã: The Case of nì
Languages 2018, 3(1), 3; doi:10.3390/languages3010003 -
Abstract
This paper analyses the communicative functions of the Gã (Niger–Congo, Kwa branch) clausal connective nì, roughly corresponding to English ‘and’, drawing on Wilson and Sperber’s (1995; 2004) relevance theory. The study demonstrates that nì is a conjunction that achieves optimal relevance when
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This paper analyses the communicative functions of the Gã (Niger–Congo, Kwa branch) clausal connective nì, roughly corresponding to English ‘and’, drawing on Wilson and Sperber’s (1995; 2004) relevance theory. The study demonstrates that nì is a conjunction that achieves optimal relevance when the nì-utterance has cognitive effects that transcend those of the individual conjuncts of nì. Importantly, the use of nì leads the way in providing clues that aid the interlocutor to “work out” the nature of the inferential relation between the conjuncts. These inferential relations, including addition, temporality, causality, contrast and parallelism, ultimately enable the interlocutor to arrive at the desired and/or intended interpretation of the utterance as a whole. This paper is, thus, an attempt to account for the meaning of nì as well as the pragmatic processes that inform the specific inferential relations between the nì-conjuncts. It also illumines the ways in which pragmatic enrichment and context-dependent inference can strengthen the logical form of clausal coordination in Gã. Full article
Open AccessEditorial
Introducing the Special Issue: MOBILizing Language Learning in the 21st Century
Languages 2018, 3(1), 2; doi:10.3390/languages3010002 -
Abstract
Mobilizing paraphrases as ‘making mobile’, alluding to people as well as resources being organized with a clear intent[...] Full article
Open AccessEditorial
Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Languages in 2015, 2016, and 2017
Languages 2018, 3(1), 1; doi:10.3390/languages3010001 -
Abstract
Peer review is an essential part in the publication process, ensuring that Languages maintains high quality standards for its published papers [...]
Full article
Open AccessEditorial
Introducing the Special Issue: Bilingualism in the Hispanic and Lusophone World
Languages 2017, 2(4), 31; doi:10.3390/languages2040031 -
Abstract
This Special Issue of Languages includes nine selected and peer‐reviewed papers from the second meeting of Bilingualism in the Hispanic and Lusophone World (BHL), an international conference that took place at Florida State University, in Tallahassee, Florida, USA, in January 2017 [...] Full article
Open AccessArticle
The Role of Input Factors in the Lexical Development of European Portuguese as a Heritage Language in Portuguese–German Bilingual Speakers
Languages 2017, 2(4), 30; doi:10.3390/languages2040030 -
Abstract
In light of previous research on early bilingualism, this study investigates whether 6–11-year-old child heritage speakers (HSs) of European Portuguese (EP), living in Germany, show patterns of lexical development similar to those of monolingual EP children, both in terms of vocabulary size and
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In light of previous research on early bilingualism, this study investigates whether 6–11-year-old child heritage speakers (HSs) of European Portuguese (EP), living in Germany, show patterns of lexical development similar to those of monolingual EP children, both in terms of vocabulary size and of lexical composition. Moreover, it assesses the role of factors related to the quantity and quality of the input in the HSs’ lexical development in EP. Twenty-three bilingual and 21 monolingual children were tested on a semi-spontaneous oral production task. The collected data were used to build a corpus composed of three subcorpora (nouns, verbs, adjectives), which served as a basis for between- and within-group comparisons. Information regarding the HSs’ language experience was collected by means of a parental questionnaire. Results revealed significant between-group differences concerning the total corpus and the subcorpora of nouns and verbs. Within-group comparisons showed that both groups produced significantly more nouns than verbs and more verbs than adjectives. Correlation analyses revealed that the HSs’ lexical knowledge is significantly correlated with the input and output quantity at home as well as with the number of EP-speaking parents. Parents emerge as the key players in the acquisition of EP as a heritage language. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Effects of Code-Switching and Lexical Stress on Vowel Quality and Duration of Heritage Speakers of Spanish
Languages 2017, 2(4), 29; doi:10.3390/languages2040029 -
Abstract
The quantity of research on Heritage Speakers (HS) of Spanish phonetics has increased over the last decade, including studies on the possible effect of code-switching on Spanish phonetics. Following this line of research, the present study investigates the role of code-switching and lexical
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The quantity of research on Heritage Speakers (HS) of Spanish phonetics has increased over the last decade, including studies on the possible effect of code-switching on Spanish phonetics. Following this line of research, the present study investigates the role of code-switching and lexical stress on Spanish HS vowel production, specifically if the introduction of English reduces the vowel quality and duration of Spanish vowels after a code-switch. Eleven Spanish HSs participated in a controlled narration task in which they were asked to read aloud texts that code-switched between English and Spanish and one text that only contained Spanish. PRAAT was used to segment the vowels and the F1 and F2 values, along with duration, were extracted. The results show that both code-switching and lexical stress significantly affect Spanish HS vowels. Code-switching and vowels in unstressed position were more centralized than the vowels in the monolingual Spanish session and vowels in stressed position, respectively; unstressed vowels were also shorter in duration than stressed vowels. These results show that the introduction of English—a language in which vowel quality and duration change between unstressed and stressed syllables—via code-switching significantly affects Spanish HS vowels, subsequently providing evidence for transient interference. Full article
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Open AccessEditorial
Introducing the Special Issue: Clausal and Nominal Complements in Monolingual and Bilingual Grammars
Languages 2017, 2(4), 28; doi:10.3390/languages2040028 -
Abstract
To introduce this Special Issue entitled Clausal and Nominal Complements in Monolingual and Bilingual Grammars, we begin by explaining what originally motivated this Special Issue [...]
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Open AccessArticle
A Comparison of the Grammatical Production of Child Heritage Speakers of Spanish across Language and Grade: Kindergarten and Grade 1
Languages 2017, 2(4), 27; doi:10.3390/languages2040027 -
Abstract
In this study, we elicited grammatical forms (oral production) from a group of child heritage speakers of Spanish (N = 45) in English and Spanish, using the morphosyntax subtest of the Bilingual English–Spanish Assessment (BESA), (Peña et al. 2014). A cross-sectional design
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In this study, we elicited grammatical forms (oral production) from a group of child heritage speakers of Spanish (N = 45) in English and Spanish, using the morphosyntax subtest of the Bilingual English–Spanish Assessment (BESA), (Peña et al. 2014). A cross-sectional design was used with 25 participants in kindergarten and 20 in first grade. All children spoke Spanish at home and attended English rural schools. We controlled for L2 class environment and socio-economic status. Research findings indicated children produced more target structures in L1 Spanish. This project supports the view that sequential bilingualism and continuous exposure to the heritage language may assist heritage speakers to maintain some L1 structures (Miller and Cuza 2013; Pascual y Cabo and Gómez Soler 2015). Patterns of L2 development are also addressed. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Sibilant Merger in the Variety of Basque Spoken in Amorebieta-Etxano
Languages 2017, 2(4), 25; doi:10.3390/languages2040025 -
Abstract
Basque has an apico-alveolar /s̺/, a lamino-alveolar /s̻/, and a prepalatal sibilant /ʃ/ that are represented by the letters <s>, <z>, and <x>, respectively. The apico-alveolar and the lamino-alveolar sibilants have merged in some areas of Biscay, Guipuzcoa, and the Basque-speaking territories of
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Basque has an apico-alveolar /s̺/, a lamino-alveolar /s̻/, and a prepalatal sibilant /ʃ/ that are represented by the letters <s>, <z>, and <x>, respectively. The apico-alveolar and the lamino-alveolar sibilants have merged in some areas of Biscay, Guipuzcoa, and the Basque-speaking territories of Alava (e.g., Hualde 2010), and Spanish has been hypothesized as a factor driving this merger (Jurado Noriega 2011). On the other hand, complex sibilant systems like the traditional Basque one tend to be neutralized independently of language contact (Bukmaier et al. 2014). In order to add to this debate and shed new light on the merger, this study explored Biscayan Basque, a variety at an advanced state of the merger (Hualde 2010). More precisely, the study tested how the degree of bilingualism affects the production of the sibilants under study and the resulting neutralization by performing an acoustic analysis of the data. The results show that Basque- and Spanish-dominant speakers behave differently with regard to the sibilant merger, and that they have different places of articulation for their sibilants. Only Basque-dominant speakers maintain a significant distinction in the place of articulation of <z> and <x> overall, whereas Spanish-dominant speakers do not make a distinction among sibilants. Furthermore, the resulting merged sibilant is less fronted for Spanish-dominant speakers than the sibilants of Basque-dominant speakers. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Indian English Evolution and Focusing Visible Through Power Laws
Languages 2017, 2(4), 26; doi:10.3390/languages2040026 -
Abstract
New dialect emergence and focusing in language contact settings is difficult to capture and date in terms of global structural dialect stabilization. This paper explores whether diachronic power law frequency distributions can provide evidence of dialect evolution and new dialect focusing, by considering
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New dialect emergence and focusing in language contact settings is difficult to capture and date in terms of global structural dialect stabilization. This paper explores whether diachronic power law frequency distributions can provide evidence of dialect evolution and new dialect focusing, by considering the quantitative frequency characteristics of three diachronic Indian English (IE) corpora (1970s–2008). The results demonstrate that IE consistently follows power law frequency distributions and the corpora are each best fit by Mandelbrot’s Law. Diachronic changes in the constants are interpreted as evidence of lexical and syntactic collocational focusing within the process of new dialect formation. Evidence of new dialect focusing is also visible through apparent time comparison of spoken and written data. Age and gender-separated sub-corpora of the most recent corpus show minimal deviation, providing apparent time evidence for emerging IE dialect stability. From these findings, we extend the interpretation of diachronic changes in the β coefficient—as indicative of changes in the degree of synthetic/analytic structure—so that β is also sensitive to grammaticalization and changes in collocational patterns. Full article
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