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Languages, Volume 3, Issue 3 (September 2018)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) Languages (www.mdpi.com/journal/languages) is an international, peer-reviewed open access journal [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle Non-Native Dialect Matters: The Perception of European and Brazilian Portuguese Vowels by Californian English Monolinguals and Spanish–English Bilinguals
Received: 10 April 2018 / Revised: 30 August 2018 / Accepted: 3 September 2018 / Published: 12 September 2018
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Abstract
Studies show that second language (L2) learners’ perceptual patterns differ depending on their native dialect (e.g., Chládková and Podlipský 2011; Escudero and Williams 2012). Likewise, speakers from the same native language background show different perceptual patterns depending on the dialect to which they
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Studies show that second language (L2) learners’ perceptual patterns differ depending on their native dialect (e.g., Chládková and Podlipský 2011; Escudero and Williams 2012). Likewise, speakers from the same native language background show different perceptual patterns depending on the dialect to which they are exposed (e.g., Escudero and Boersma 2004; Escudero and Chládková 2010). The Second Language Linguistic Perception model (L2LP; Escudero 2005) accounts for these differences, explicitly stating that the acoustic similarity between the native and target dialect affects L2 perception. This study investigated whether Californian English monolingual and Spanish–English bilingual listeners differ in their perception of European Portuguese (EP) and Brazilian Portuguese (BP) vowels. Escudero et al. (2009a) showed that there were differences in the acoustic realization of vowels in BP and EP. Stressed vowels were longer in BP than in EP, with differences in vowel height observed for some vowels (e.g., /ɛ/ is higher in EP than in BP). According to the L2LP model, these acoustic differences between dialects will affect vowel perception; therefore, we predicted that there would be differences in the listeners’ perception of certain vowel contrasts in BP and EP. Participants completed a non-native categorization task and a discrimination task presented in the XAB format. The results from the non-native categorization task predicted differential vowel perception depending on both the dialect and vowel contrast that listeners heard, which were mostly confirmed with an interaction between dialect and contrast in the discrimination results. We contextualize these results with respect to models of L2 speech perception, highlighting that dialectal differences impact language perception and may influence later language learning. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Teasing Apart the Effects of Dominance, Transfer, and Processing in Reference Production by German–Italian Bilingual Adolescents
Received: 11 February 2018 / Revised: 22 August 2018 / Accepted: 3 September 2018 / Published: 12 September 2018
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Abstract
This paper intends to test different accounts of bilingual reference production against the production of referring expressions in Italian by German‒Italian bilingual adolescents. In particular, we investigate to what extent bilingual referring expressions involve transfer from one language to the other, result from
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This paper intends to test different accounts of bilingual reference production against the production of referring expressions in Italian by German‒Italian bilingual adolescents. In particular, we investigate to what extent bilingual referring expressions involve transfer from one language to the other, result from processing and dominance variables, and are the outcome of a process of language change. We will show that each of these hypotheses makes a precise prediction about which referential strategy bilinguals should adopt. The production of referring expressions is examined in the context of a story-telling task. Based on the analysis of overspecified forms, clitic omissions, and agreement mismatches, as well as on correlations with dominance factors, we argue in favor of the relevance of dominance and processing factors for bilingual reference production. Finally, we verify the possibility of generalizing our conclusions to a different linguistic domain, concerning the expression of word order in main clauses. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Bilingual Processing of Comparative Structures in Spanish
Received: 18 January 2018 / Revised: 24 August 2018 / Accepted: 3 September 2018 / Published: 7 September 2018
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Abstract
Previous studies have focused on the access of content words to investigate the cognitive strategies used in bilingual processing (e.g., Fernández 2003), but less is known about functional words. In this study, I assess (i) whether three groups of bilingual speakers of Spanish
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Previous studies have focused on the access of content words to investigate the cognitive strategies used in bilingual processing (e.g., Fernández 2003), but less is known about functional words. In this study, I assess (i) whether three groups of bilingual speakers of Spanish (native, heritage, and second language (L2) speakers) access the lexically-encoded information of the quantifier más ‘more’ to activate a comparative structure interpretation, and (ii) what processing strategies are used to resolve a temporary semantic ambiguity that surfaces upon accessing that interpretation. Using a self-paced reading task, three groups of Spanish speakers living in the United States read comparative sentences, which allowed for two possible continuations at the subordinate clause: a subject continuation (e.g., El cantante obtiene más premios que el pianista en el festival ‘The singer gets more awards than the pianist at the festival’) or an object continuation (e.g., El cantante obtiene más premios que críticas en el festival ‘The singer gets more awards than criticism at the festival’). Results revealed longer reading times for the subject comparison compared to the object comparison structures, and no significant differences between the three groups, suggesting that participants in all groups followed similar processing strategies and preferences in the reading of comparative structures. Full article
Open AccessArticle Patterns of Short-Term Phonetic Interference in Bilingual Speech
Received: 28 January 2018 / Revised: 15 August 2018 / Accepted: 16 August 2018 / Published: 24 August 2018
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Abstract
Previous research indicates that alternating between a bilingual’s languages during speech production can lead to short-term increases in cross-language phonetic interaction. However, discrepancies exist between the reported L1–L2 effects in terms of direction and magnitude, and sometimes the effects are not found at
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Previous research indicates that alternating between a bilingual’s languages during speech production can lead to short-term increases in cross-language phonetic interaction. However, discrepancies exist between the reported L1–L2 effects in terms of direction and magnitude, and sometimes the effects are not found at all. The present study focused on L1 interference in L2, examining Voice Onset Time (VOT) of English voiceless stops produced by L1-dominant Czech-English bilinguals—interpreter trainees highly proficient in L2-English. We tested two hypotheses: (1) switching between languages induces an immediate increase in L1 interference during code-switching; and (2) due to global language co-activation, an increase in L1-to-L2 interference occurs when bilinguals interpret (translate) a message from L1 into L2 even if they do not produce L1 speech. Fourteen bilinguals uttered L2-English sentences under three conditions: L2-only, code-switching into L2, and interpreting into L2. Against expectation, the results showed that English VOT in the bilingual tasks tended to be longer and less Czech-like compared to the English-only task. This contradicts an earlier finding of L2 VOT converging temporarily towards L1 VOT values for comparable bilingual tasks performed by speakers from the same bilingual population. Participant-level inspection of our data suggests that besides language-background differences, individual language-switching strategies contribute to discrepancies between studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Code-Switching)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle The Lexical Development of Canadian-Born Romanian L1 Bilingual Kindergarteners
Received: 1 February 2018 / Revised: 6 August 2018 / Accepted: 7 August 2018 / Published: 16 August 2018
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Abstract
This study charts the lexical development of three sequential bilingual kindergarteners whose first language, Romanian, was acquired naturalistically at home, and whose second language, English, was acquired in kindergarten. The children’s lexical development in English and Romanian was assessed at five different points
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This study charts the lexical development of three sequential bilingual kindergarteners whose first language, Romanian, was acquired naturalistically at home, and whose second language, English, was acquired in kindergarten. The children’s lexical development in English and Romanian was assessed at five different points over a two-year period via the PPVT-4 (peabody picture vocabulary test 4) and a specially adapted PPVT-4 for Romanian. The children’s lexical repertoires were further analyzed to uncover home versus school and cognate versus non-cognate acquisitional differences. In addition, because there is no database of lexical items acquired by monolingual Romanian children, the PPVT-4 adapted for Romanian was administered to 22 monolingual six-year-old Romanian children in Sibiu, Romania. The findings indicate the following: (i) the three bilinguals’ receptive vocabulary in English was below average when they joined kindergarten, and at or above average two years later; (ii) their lexical growth in Romanian was steady; (iii) the bilinguals’ scores for words belonging to a home register reflected ceiling effects in English and Romanian (i.e., were very well known); (iv) academic words were known to an equal extent in English and Romanian, but scores were lower than for the home register; and (v) there was no definitive evidence of cognate facilitation. A comparison of the monolingual and bilingual Romanian repertoires reflects the following: (i) equally high scores for home items; (ii) differences in scores in the academic register in favour of the Romanian monolinguals; and (iii) important lifestyle and cultural differences between the groups. The Romanian children, for example, were more familiar than their Canadian counterparts with items related to home maintenance, such as șmirghăluiește (‘sanding’) and mistrie (‘trowel’), or items probably learned in school, such as foca (‘walrus’) and broască țestoasă (‘tortoise’). Full article
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Open AccessArticle Brazilian Bimodal Bilinguals as Heritage Signers
Received: 6 April 2018 / Revised: 5 August 2018 / Accepted: 6 August 2018 / Published: 10 August 2018
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Abstract
This paper presents an analysis of heritage signers: bimodal bilinguals, who are adult hearing children of Deaf parents who acquired sign language at home with their parents and the spoken language from the surrounding community. Analyzing heritage language with bimodal bilinguals who possess
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This paper presents an analysis of heritage signers: bimodal bilinguals, who are adult hearing children of Deaf parents who acquired sign language at home with their parents and the spoken language from the surrounding community. Analyzing heritage language with bimodal bilinguals who possess pairs of languages in different modalities provides a new kind of evidence for understanding the heritage language phenomenon as well as for theoretical issues regarding human language. Language production data were collected from four Brazilian bimodal bilinguals separately in both sign and speech, as well as from monolingual comparison Deaf signers and hearing speakers. The data were subsequently analyzed for various grammatical components. As with other types of heritage speakers, we observed a great degree of individual variation in the sign (heritage) language of balanced participants who patterned similarly to the monolingual signers, compared to those whose use of sign language differed greatly from monolinguals. One participant showed some weaknesses in the second (spoken) language. We approach the variation in language fluency in the two languages by considering the different contexts of language development and continuing use. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Mood Selection in Relative Clauses by French–Spanish Bilinguals: Contrasts and Similarities between L2 and Heritage Speakers
Received: 20 February 2018 / Revised: 27 July 2018 / Accepted: 31 July 2018 / Published: 6 August 2018
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Abstract
In this paper, we explore three issues related to the acquisition of mood selection in Spanish relative clauses by second language (L2) and heritage (HL) speakers of Spanish: (1) whether HL speakers are more native-like than L2 learners; (2) whether the speakers’ performance
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In this paper, we explore three issues related to the acquisition of mood selection in Spanish relative clauses by second language (L2) and heritage (HL) speakers of Spanish: (1) whether HL speakers are more native-like than L2 learners; (2) whether the speakers’ performance differs depending on task modality (written vs. oral), since HL speakers are known to perform better in oral tasks and L2 learners tend to do better in written tasks; and (3) whether knowledge of French as an L1/dominant language (DL) has an impact on the acquisition of Spanish subjunctive, since both languages include this mood in their grammars, but it is used more productively in Spanish. Results from a sentence combination felicity task (SCFT) in Spanish—in written and oral forms—and a written elicited production task (EPT) in French, administered to advanced L2 and HL speakers of Spanish whose L1/DL is French and two monolingual (Spanish and French) control groups, revealed that L2 learners pattern more closely with the control group than HL speakers in the SCFT, both written and orally. In the EPT, all bilingual speakers display higher levels of subjunctive use than the control group, showing a potential influence from the L2/weaker language on the L1/DL. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Revisiting (Non-)Native Influence in VOT Production: Insights from Advanced L3 Spanish
Received: 22 January 2018 / Revised: 20 May 2018 / Accepted: 24 July 2018 / Published: 31 July 2018
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Abstract
A growing body of research investigating cross-linguistic influence on the acquisition of a third phonological system suggests that first (L1) and second (L2) languages concur in influencing oral production in the target third language (L3). Yet, there are also claims of either a
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A growing body of research investigating cross-linguistic influence on the acquisition of a third phonological system suggests that first (L1) and second (L2) languages concur in influencing oral production in the target third language (L3). Yet, there are also claims of either a more noticeable effect of the L2 on the L3, or a prevailing influence from the L1. This study further explores whether the L1 and the L2 compete or converge on exerting influence on L3 pronunciation. To do so, we examine the production of voice onset time for voiceless stops by adult advanced learners of L3 Spanish divided into two groups (15 L1 English-L2 French, and 15 L1 French-L2 English speakers). Three monolingual control groups were also tested. Participants were recorded reading word lists that contained voiceless stops in stressed onset position. A Kruskal-Wallis test uncovered significant differences traceable to the L1-English speakers, which puts them at a slight disadvantage vis-à-vis their Francophone counterparts. These results favor claims of a more decisive role for the L1 in L3 pronunciation. We compare our results to findings from previous studies targeting intermediate learners, and find proficiency in the L3 may account for the observed differences. Full article
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Open AccessArticle French Postverbal Subjects: A Comparison of Monolingual, Bilingual, Trilingual, and Multilingual French
Received: 13 November 2017 / Revised: 23 July 2018 / Accepted: 24 July 2018 / Published: 28 July 2018
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Abstract
Monolingual French children have been observed to pass through a stage which is characterized by the production of target-deviant postverbal subjects of the following type (Jansen 2015, p. 272): est tombé Philippe ‘is fallen Philippe’ (Philippe, 2;2,10), écrit bien celui-là ‘writes well this
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Monolingual French children have been observed to pass through a stage which is characterized by the production of target-deviant postverbal subjects of the following type (Jansen 2015, p. 272): est tombé Philippe ‘is fallen Philippe’ (Philippe, 2;2,10), écrit bien celui-là ‘writes well this one’ (Philippe, 2;2,2) (De Cat 2002; Déprez and Pierce 1993; Ferdinand 1993, 1996; Friedemann [1993] 1994; Labelle and Valois 1996; Pierce 1989). Interestingly, bilingual children who acquire French together with German produce postverbal subjects to an extremely low degree in mean length of utterance (MLU)-phases compared with monolingual children (Jansen 2015). Arguably, they skip the postverbal subject phase and are accelerated with respect to monolingual children. In our study, we tested whether multilingualism can speed up the acquisition process in French. A production test with 62 multilingual children (starting at 2;7 acquiring two, three, or four L1s) was administered in Spain and Germany to elicit finite verbs and DP (Determiner Phrase) subjects in French. The children’s proficiency in French was measured on the basis of the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) (Dunn et al. 1993). In comparison with monolinguals studied in the literature, the bilingual children and the children who acquired more than two languages were accelerated with respect to the placement of subjects in the postverbal position. Although the multilingual children who ranked low in the PPVT exhibited all kinds of structures as responses to the test items that are characteristic of early French, such as null-subjects, root infinites and bare nouns, they did not use postverbal subjects. The absence of postverbal subjects was observed not only in children who acquired either German (or English) at the same time as French, as did the bilingual children in Jansen’s (2015) study, but also in children who acquired, in addition to French, a Romance language like Spanish, Catalan, or Italian, all null-subject languages which allow postverbal subjects in the adult language. Following (Biberauer and Richards 2006), the extended projection principle (EPP) feature of T (Tense) can be satisfied in different ways across languages: if a DP is necessary, which it is in adult French, it can be raised from Spec,vP (specifier of vP, of the small-verb Phrase) to Spec,TP (specifier of Tense Phrase) (in which case the finite verb surfaces in T). This is the default of EPP satisfaction in T. It is this option which is facilitated and boosts the acquisition of the preverbal subject position in early bilingual, trilingual, and multilingual French. The result that the children who acquired a null-subject language such as Spanish also enjoyed an advantage in French, adult Spanish being a language that allows for postverbal subjects, indicates that it is plausible that the default character of DP-raising for EPP satisfaction, instantiated in all languages involved, is the reason for its high relevance in the early French of bilingual, trilingual, and multilingual children. If our analysis of the multilingual data is plausible, monolingual French children exhibit more variation in satisfying the EPP-feature (in T) than children who acquire one or more other languages in addition to French, an observation which goes back to (Meisel 1989). Full article
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Open AccessArticle Investigating Gender Assignment Strategies in Mixed Purepecha–Spanish Nominal Constructions
Received: 12 January 2018 / Revised: 31 May 2018 / Accepted: 4 July 2018 / Published: 16 July 2018
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Abstract
Purepecha has no grammatical gender, whereas Spanish has a binary masculine–feminine system. In this paper we investigate how early sequential Purepecha–Spanish bilinguals assign gender to Purepecha nouns inserted into an otherwise Spanish utterance, using a director-matcher production task and an online forced-choice acceptability
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Purepecha has no grammatical gender, whereas Spanish has a binary masculine–feminine system. In this paper we investigate how early sequential Purepecha–Spanish bilinguals assign gender to Purepecha nouns inserted into an otherwise Spanish utterance, using a director-matcher production task and an online forced-choice acceptability judgement task. The results of the production task indicate a strong preference for masculine gender, irrespective of the gender of the noun’s translation equivalent, the so-called “masculine default” option. Participants in the comprehension task were influenced by the orthography of the Purepecha noun in the -a ending condition, leading them to assign feminine gender agreement to nouns that are masculine in Spanish, but preferred the masculine default strategy again in the -i/-u ending condition. The absence of the “analogical criterion” in both tasks contrasts with the results of some previous studies, underlining the need for more comparable data in terms of task type. Our results also highlight how task type can influence the choices speakers make, in this context, in terms of the choice of grammatical gender agreement strategy. Task type should therefore be carefully controlled in future studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Code-Switching)
Open AccessArticle Language Dominance, Verbal Fluency, and Language Control in two Groups of Russian–English Bilinguals
Received: 14 March 2018 / Revised: 29 June 2018 / Accepted: 6 July 2018 / Published: 14 July 2018
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Abstract
This study explored language dominance, verbal fluency, and language control abilities of two groups of younger and older Russian–English bilinguals who had spent similar amounts of time as immigrants in the U.S. Verbal fluency tasks (based on letter and semantic cues, including a
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This study explored language dominance, verbal fluency, and language control abilities of two groups of younger and older Russian–English bilinguals who had spent similar amounts of time as immigrants in the U.S. Verbal fluency tasks (based on letter and semantic cues, including a new method to elicit parallel letter-fluency data for Russian and English) were used to measure the bilinguals’ current lexical retrieval skills in addition to self-assessments of language proficiencies at time of study and time of arrival. Stroop tasks (naming colors with incongruent cues) were used to measure younger and older bilinguals’ ability to control interference during color-naming. Findings demonstrate that the older immigrants were less fluent in L2 naming tasks and that they remained dominant (more proficient) in their L1 whereas the younger immigrants had become relatively balanced bilinguals in terms of proficiency, fluent in both the L1 and L2. Younger and older bilinguals were equally capable of controlling interference across and within the two languages. We propose that it is not balance in bilingual proficiency that positively affects language control abilities, but balance as stability of language systems. Stability of language systems can be achieved if bilingual usage patterns remain relatively constant over several years and if no radical changes in language learning and maintenance efforts are required. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Acquiring L1-English L2-Spanish Code-Switching: The Role of Exposure to Language Mixing
Received: 14 January 2018 / Revised: 29 June 2018 / Accepted: 6 July 2018 / Published: 12 July 2018
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Abstract
This paper explores the code-switching behavior of second language (L2) bilinguals as a lens into the development of their L2 linguistic systems. Specifically, it investigates the acceptability judgments of L1-English L2-Spanish bilinguals on intra-sentential code-switching, comparing those judgments to a group of Spanish–English
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This paper explores the code-switching behavior of second language (L2) bilinguals as a lens into the development of their L2 linguistic systems. Specifically, it investigates the acceptability judgments of L1-English L2-Spanish bilinguals on intra-sentential code-switching, comparing those judgments to a group of Spanish–English bilinguals who acquired both languages as an L1. The particular issues of proficiency and bilingual language behavior are analyzed, testing whether either factor has an effect on L2 code-switching intuitions. The results suggest that both proficiency and bilingual language behavior are relevant. L2 bilinguals with an intermediate/advanced proficiency level of Spanish were more likely to align with 2L1 bilinguals with regard to code-switching judgments, as were L2 bilinguals who reported prior experience with language mixing. L2 bilinguals with lower proficiency in Spanish, as well as those who reported never engaging in code-switching, however, were more likely to diverge from the 2L1 bilinguals in their judgments. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Implicit and Explicit Knowledge of a Multiple Interface Phenomenon: Differential Task Effects in Heritage Speakers and L2 Speakers of Spanish in The Netherlands
Received: 31 December 2017 / Revised: 3 July 2018 / Accepted: 4 July 2018 / Published: 10 July 2018
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This paper compares heritage speakers and second language (L2) speakers of Spanish with Dutch as their dominant language, in order to explore the role of age of onset and manner of acquisition in the nature of the knowledge (implicit vs. explicit) of the
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This paper compares heritage speakers and second language (L2) speakers of Spanish with Dutch as their dominant language, in order to explore the role of age of onset and manner of acquisition in the nature of the knowledge (implicit vs. explicit) of the subjunctive. Differently from previous studies, all items were presented orally and in written form, so that language mode of presentation could be excluded as a confounding factor. Moreover, the groups were matched on their general proficiency in Spanish using both an explicit and an implicit proficiency task. The results showed that the L2 speakers outperformed the heritage speakers in the explicit knowledge task and vice versa in the implicit knowledge task, suggesting that differential task effects, which thus far have only been attested for morpho-syntactic phenomena, can be extended to interface phenomena as well. These findings imply that age of onset and manner of acquisition have an influence in the way knowledge is represented in these two populations, and moreover emphasize the importance of using different task types in bilingual research. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Continuity in the Adult and Children’s Comprehension of Subject and Object Relative Clauses in French and Italian
Received: 5 January 2018 / Revised: 26 June 2018 / Accepted: 29 June 2018 / Published: 5 July 2018
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Subject and object relative clauses have been studied from the point of view of language acquisition and adult sentence processing. In the adult sentence processing literature, subject relative clauses (RCs) are read faster than object RCs (e.g., Frauenfelder et al. 1980 for French;
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Subject and object relative clauses have been studied from the point of view of language acquisition and adult sentence processing. In the adult sentence processing literature, subject relative clauses (RCs) are read faster than object RCs (e.g., Frauenfelder et al. 1980 for French; King and Kutas 1995 for English; Schriefers et al. 1995 for Dutch). Similarly, children understand and produce subject RCs earlier and with greater accuracy than object RCs in a variety of languages with head-initial relative clauses, as English, Hebrew and Italian. These findings cannot be a coincidence but reflect the fact that what children acquire first is also easier to process by adults. In this article, we support this observation by investigating subject and object RCs in children and adults speaking French and Italian. These languages display subject and object relatives as in (1), but they also have a type of object relative in which the subject is postverbal. We replicate the observation that subject relatives are easier than object and show that object relatives as in (1b), with the embedded subject in preverbal position are easier than those with the embedded subject in postverbal position, both for children and adults. We offer an account of these findings in terms of Fodor and Inoue’s (2000) diagnosis model in light of the fact that acquisition involves processing. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle The Narrative Abilities of an English-Spanish Bilingual with Prader-Willi Syndrome
Received: 21 February 2018 / Revised: 14 June 2018 / Accepted: 18 June 2018 / Published: 2 July 2018
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Abstract
The aim of this study was to analyze the narrative abilities of a 33-year-old English-Spanish bilingual with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS). The few previous linguistic studies examining monolinguals with PWS have focused primarily on these individuals’ narrative capacity, revealing a performance deficit in this
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The aim of this study was to analyze the narrative abilities of a 33-year-old English-Spanish bilingual with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS). The few previous linguistic studies examining monolinguals with PWS have focused primarily on these individuals’ narrative capacity, revealing a performance deficit in this area (Lewis et al. 2002; Garayzábal-Heinze et al. 2012). The present study is novel in that it examines a bilingual speaker and also tests his narrative abilities in both languages. Two wordless picture books from Mayer’s (1967, 1969) Frog story series were used as the elicitation method. The PWS bilingual produced, over two experimental sessions, four narratives (two in each language), which were compared to four analogous narratives produced by a 25-year-old typically developing bilingual with a comparable linguistic background and proficiency level in Spanish and English. Following Gonçalves and collaborators’ (Gonçalves et al. 2001a, 2001b, 2001c) narrative evaluation protocol, the narratives were analyzed according to three dimensions: narrative structure and coherence, narrative process and complexity, and narrative content and multiplicity. Overall, the results revealed that the PWS bilingual (1) presented a poor narration ability in both languages, with narrative content and multiplicity being the least impaired; (2) showed better narrative abilities during the second experimental session (i.e., narrative abilities improved with experience/practice); and (3) did not show typically developing behavior but a comparable performance to that of monolingual speakers with PWS. These findings suggest that bilingualism should not be discouraged in PWS populations and that special attention should be given to the development of their narrative abilities in their school curriculum. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Clitic Production in Bilingual Children: When Exposure Matters
Received: 31 December 2017 / Revised: 22 June 2018 / Accepted: 25 June 2018 / Published: 28 June 2018
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The aim of this work is to investigate how bilingual children perform with respect to monolingual children in a task eliciting direct object clitic pronouns in Italian. Clitic production is considered a good clinical marker for Italian monolingual children suffering from specific language
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The aim of this work is to investigate how bilingual children perform with respect to monolingual children in a task eliciting direct object clitic pronouns in Italian. Clitic production is considered a good clinical marker for Italian monolingual children suffering from specific language impairment (SLI) (Bortolini et al. 2006). Moreover, this task is reported to be particularly challenging for early second language children (EL2), who are less accurate than their peers in this task (Vender et al. 2016). Even though the typology of errors committed by the two populations (non-impaired bilinguals and SLI children) is generally different, it can be difficult to keep them apart from each other and, as a consequence, to identify a language impairment in bilingual children. However, it has been suggested that the difficulties exhibited by EL2 children in clitic production are related to their competence in their L2 and that they should disappear as soon as their mastery of the L2 increases. To test this prediction, we assessed clitic production in a group of 31 bilingual children having Italian as their L2 (mean age 10;2), comparing their performance to that of a group of 33 Italian monolingual children (mean age 10;2). The bilingual children used their L1 on a daily basis, as assessed by means of a bilingual exposure questionnaire, and had on average eight years of exposure to Italian; moreover, they performed similarly to monolinguals in a receptive vocabulary task, indicating that their competence in Italian was good. Consistently with our predictions, we found that bilingual children performed very accurately in the clitic elicitation task, similarly to monolinguals, confirming that the deficits previously found in EL2 children were not related to bilingualism itself, but more likely to their still incomplete competence in Italian. Full article
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