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Lexico-syntactic interactions during the processing of temporally ambiguous L2 relative clauses: An eye-tracking study with intermediate and advanced Portuguese-English bilinguals
University of Minho, Portugal.
University of Minho, Portugal.
University of Minho, Portugal.
University of Minho, Portugal.
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2019 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 14, no 5, p. 1-27, article id e0216779Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

There is extensive evidence showing that bilinguals activate the lexical and the syntactic representations of both languages in a nonselective way. However, the extent to which the lexical and the syntactic levels of representations interact during second language (L2) sentence processing and how those interactions are modulated by L2 proficiency remain unclear. This paper aimed to directly address these issues by using an online technique (eye-tracking) that is highly sensitive to the lexical and syntactic processes involved in sentence reading. To that purpose, native-speakers of European Portuguese (EP) learning English as L2 at intermediate and advanced levels of proficiency were asked to silently read temporally ambiguous L2 relative clause (RC) sentences disambiguated with a High-Attachment (HA) or Low-Attachment (LA) strategy while their eye-movements were monitored. Since EP and English native speakers differ in the way they process and comprehend this syntactic structure (EP: HA, English: LA), HA preferences were used as a marker of L1 RC syntax interference. Additionally, the cognate status of the complex NP that preceded the RC was manipulated to further analyze how the lexical co-activation of both languages would also affect the syntactic representations of the non-target (L1) language. Results showed cognate facilitation in early and late reading time measures regardless of L2 proficiency, and also that the cognate status of the complex NP impacted L2 reading performance, particularly at lower levels of L2 proficiency. These findings provide compelling evidence for a bilingual reading system that seems to be highly dynamic and interactive not only within each level of processing, but, importantly, across levels of representation. They also suggested that, as the level of L2 proficiency increases, L1 RC syntax interference becomes stronger, in a syntactic parser that seems to operate in a more integrated and nonselective way, with both strategies being equally available to guide L2 reading comprehension. Results are discussed attending to the current models of bilingual syntactic processing.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Public Library of Science , 2019. Vol. 14, no 5, p. 1-27, article id e0216779
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology) Neurosciences
Research subject
Natural Science, Optometry; Social Sciences, Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-84449DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0216779ISI: 000469323000023PubMedID: 31141531Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85066431671OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-84449DiVA, id: diva2:1319247
Available from: 2019-05-30 Created: 2019-05-30 Last updated: 2019-08-29Bibliographically approved

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Macedo, António Filipe

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