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... Further evidence that processing of gender during clitic pronoun resolution is challenging as well as that proficiency influences gender processing comes from studies of event related potentials (ERP). In particular, Rossi et al. (2014) have investigated the sensitivity of adult English-speaking learners of Spanish to number and gender violations in clitic processing. They found that the ERP patterns for number violations were similar for the L1 Spanish-speaking group and the learners of Spanish, but only highly proficient learners of Spanish manifested the same ERP pattern with native speakers to violations of gender marking. ...
... Moreover, one can expect an effect of ungrammaticality, namely longer RTs at the critical segment in ungrammatical sentences as in Chondrogianni et al. (2015). However, if they have not achieved native-like processing abilities, there are two possibilities: (1) the 2L1 children's processing pattern is similar to that of L1 children, but they are slower than L1 children at the post-critical segment, such as in the study of Chondrogianni et al. (2015) or (2) 2L1 children might be less sensitive to gender violations, as was found in the study of Rossi et al. (2014) for adults, which would mean that there will be no difference between grammatical and ungrammatical sentences for the 2L1 children. ...
... However, gender errors are the predominant erroneous response also in this condition, and they outnumber number and case errors (which are reported under the category "wrong clitic" in our study). This provides further evidence that gender marking is more difficult than case and number marking in clitic production, a finding similar to that of Rossi et al. (2014) for clitic processing. Following Rossi et al. (2014) among others, we suggest that gender marking is more demanding, as it is related to the lexical representation of the antecedent, which has to be activated, whereas case and number apply only to morphology. ...
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The acquisition of clitics still remains a highly controversial issue in Greek acquisition literature despite the bulk of studies performed. Object clitics have been shown to be early acquired by monolingual children in terms of production rates, whereas only highly proficient bilingual children achieve target-like performance. Crucially, errors in gender marking are persistent for monolingual and bilingual children even when adult-like production rates are achieved. This study aims to readdress the acquisition of clitics in an innovative way, by entering the variable of gender in an experimental design targeting to assess production and processing by bilingual and monolingual children. Moreover, we examined the role of language proficiency (in terms of general verbal intelligence and syntactic production abilities). The groups had comparable performance in both tasks (in terms of correct responses and error distribution in production and reaction times in comprehension). However, verbal intelligence had an effect on the performance of the monolingual but not of the bilingual group in the production task, and bilingual children were overall slower in the comprehension task. Syntactic production abilities did not have any effect. We argue that gender marking affects clitic processing, and we discuss the implications of our findings for bilingual acquisition.
... L2 ERP studies comparing number and gender have shown a quantitative advantage for number, but only in cases where number is present in the L1 and gender is unique to the L2. For example, Gillon-Dowens et al. (2010) and Alemán Bañón et al. (2014) found that advanced L1-English learners of Spanish elicited a larger P600 for number than gender violations in most contexts examined (see also Rossi et al., 2014). This advantage, however, was absent in the study by Gillon-Dowens, Guo, Guo, , who compared Spanish number and gender agreement in native speakers of Chinese, a language that does not instantiate number or gender agreement. ...
... In addition, native-like processing for gender appears to depend on whether the target nouns provide strong distributional cues to gender. When this is the case, learners tend to show native-like processing in terms of ERP responses, even when their L1 is gender-free (e.g., Gillon-Dowens et al., 2010Alemán Bañón et al., 2014;Rossi et al., 2014). This has been the case for studies looking at gender agreement in Spanish, all of which have exclusively tested masculine nouns ending in -o and feminine nouns ending in -a. ...
... Alemán Bañón et al. (2014) report robust P600 effects for gender violations in Spanish across different syntactic domains (within the Determiner Phrase "DP", across the Verb Phrase "VP"). This was also the case for the most proficient L1-English L2-Spanish learners in the study by Rossi et al. (2014), who examined gender agreement on clitic pronouns. A similar pattern of results has emerged in L2 learners of Spanish at lower proficiency levels (Gabriele et al., 2013;Bond et al., 2011;Tokowicz and MacWhinney, 2005), which is surprising, given that mastery of this property often appears restricted to highly proficient L2ers. ...
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We examined potential sources of morphological variability in adult L1-English L2- Spanish learners, with a focus on L1-L2 similarity, morphological markedness, and knowledge type (receptive vs. expressive). Experiment 1 uses event-related potentials to examine noun-adjective number (present in L1) and gender agreement (absent in L1) in online sentence comprehension (receptive knowledge). For each feature, markedness was manipulated, such that half of the critical noun-adjective combinations were feminine (marked) and the other half, masculine; half were used in the plural (marked) and the other half in the singular. With this set-up, we examined learners' potential overreliance on unmarked forms or "defaults" (singular/masculine). Experiment 2 examines similar dependencies in spoken sentence production (expressive knowledge). Results showed that learners (n=22) performed better with number than gender overall, but their brain responses to both features were qualitatively native-like (i.e., P600), even though gender was probed with nouns that do not provide strong distributional cues to gender. In addition, variability with gender agreement was better accounted for by lexical (as opposed to syntactic) aspects. Learners showed no advantage for comprehension over production. They also showed no systematic evidence of reliance on morphological defaults, although their online processing was sensitive to markedness in a native-like manner. Overall, these results suggest that there is facilitation for properties of the L2 that exist in the L1 and that markedness impacts L2 processing, but in a native-like manner. These results also speak against proposals arguing that adult L2ers have deficits at the level of the morphology or the syntax.
... Similarly, Santoro (2007) found that English intermediate learners of Italian 8 responded more accurately than beginning learners to violation of case marking and placement 9 during an off-line grammaticality judgment task, suggesting that even late L2 learners can 10 improve in the acquisition of L2 specific grammatical structures. 11 12 In a recent series of neurophysiological studies, Rossi et al. (2014), and Rossi and 13 Prystauka (2016) investigated the real time processing of clitic pronouns using ERPs and the 14 oscillatory frequency-based signal in both native Spanish speakers and in late English-Spanish 15 bilinguals. The primary goal of those studies was to determine sensitivity to grammatical 16 gender and number marked on clitic pronouns while participants processed sentences 17 containing clitic pronouns which either correctly matched the antecedent in gender and 18 number, or violated gender agreement or number agreement or both. ...
... Importantly, these results extend the results ofRossi et al. (2014) andRossi and Prystauka 41 (2016) on sensitivity to gender and number features marked on clitic pronouns, but which did42 not test sensitivity to clitic word order. Overall, the current results reveal L2 sensitivity to clitic43 placement, and support the view that native like attainment of L2 grammatical structures is44 possible, even when those structures are unique to the L2, and even when they are learned past45 early childhood. ...
... Spanish clitic pronouns were analyzed as an example of an 30 L2 specific structure. Previous studies have shown that proficient late bilinguals are sensitive31 to violations of number and grammatical gender marked in clitics (e.g.,Rossi et al., 2014), but32 those studies were not designed to test sensitivity to the clitics' word order. Critical to the goal33 of the present research, clitics vary in sentential position across different constructions. ...
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In two self-paced reading experiments we asked whether late, highly proficient, English-Spanish bilinguals are able to process language-specific morpho-syntactic information in their second language (L2). The processing of Spanish clitic pronouns’ word order was tested in twosentential constructions. Experiment 1 showed that English-Spanish bilinguals performed similarly to Spanish-English bilinguals and revealed sensitivity to word order violations for a grammatical structure unique to the L2. Experiment 2 replicated the pattern observed for native speakers in Experiment 1 with a group of monolingual Spanish speakers, demonstrating the stability of processing clitic pronouns in the native language. Taken together, the results show that late bilinguals can process aspects of grammar that are encoded in L2-specific linguistic constructions even when the structure is relatively subtle and not affected for native speakers by the presence of a second language.
... Other studies reported a biphasic N400-P600 pattern for subject-verb and object-verb agreement violations (Coulson et al., 1998;Zawiszewski and Friederici, 2009;Díaz et al., 2011;Zawiszewski et al., 2011) as well as for antecedent-pronoun violations (Schmitt et al., 2002;Hammer et al., 2005Hammer et al., , 2008Lamers et al., 2006). Finally, some studies have also reported an isolated P600 component for subject-verb agreement violations (Osterhout et al., 1996;Nevins et al., 2007;Frenck-Mestre et al., 2008), for determiner-noun or noun-adjective gender agreement relations (Osterhout and Mobley, 1995;Osterhout et al., 1997;Frenck-Mestre, 2011, 2012) and for antecedentpronoun violations (Lamers et al., 2006Silva-Pereyra et al., 2012;Xu et al., 2013;Rossi et al., 2014). As far as we know, no study has shown an isolated early negativity (N400 or LAN). ...
... Due to the finer temporal resolution of electrophysiological measures, in Experiment 2 we sought to detect attraction effects, if there are any, at clitic position. In this case, and following previous ERP evidence (Rossi et al., 2014), we expect clitic number violations to elicit a P600 component, which might also be preceded by a negative (N400 or LAN) component similar to the one reported for gender violations (Silva-Pereyra et al., 2012). Importantly, if clitics are agreement morphemes, we should be able to detect similar number attraction effects as those reported for subject-verb agreement (Kaan, 2002;Shen et al., 2013;Tanner et al., 2014Tanner et al., , 2016, and we expect attraction effects to reduce the magnitude of the ERP components, particularly the P600. ...
... .) elicited a frontal negativity followed by a P600 component. These components have been previously reported for antecedent-clitic dependency violations, but not simultaneously: Silva-Pereyra et al. (2012) report an N400 for feminine gender violation and a P600 for masculine gender violation, while Rossi et al. (2014) report a P600 for both gender and number violations. Our biphasic ERP pattern replicates the one usually reported for agreement violations (see Molinaro et al., 2011) and other types of pronominal dependency violations such as reflexives or subject pronouns (Schmitt et al., 2002;Hammer et al., 2005Hammer et al., , 2008Lamers et al., 2006). ...
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Pronominal dependencies have been shown to be more resilient to attraction effects than subject-verb agreement. We use this phenomenon to investigate whether antecedent-clitic dependencies in Spanish are computed like agreement or like pronominal dependencies. In Experiment 1, an acceptability judgment self-paced reading task was used. Accuracy data yielded reliable attraction effects in both grammatical and ungrammatical sentences, only in singular (but not plural) clitics. Reading times did not show reliable attraction effects. In Experiment 2, we measured electrophysiological responses to violations, which elicited a biphasic frontal negativity-P600 pattern. Number attraction modulated the frontal negativity but not the amplitude of the P600 component. This differs from ERP findings on subject-verb agreement, since when the baseline matching condition obtained a biphasic pattern, attraction effects only modulated the P600, not the preceding negativity. We argue that these findings support cue-retrieval accounts of dependency resolution and further suggest that the sensitivity to attraction effects shown by clitics resembles more the computation of pronominal dependencies than that of agreement.
... For example, such findings were reported by Rossi et al. (2014)-a study which investigated late English-Spanish bilinguals of varying degrees of (self-reported) English proficiency. The study used ERP to examine their reactions to gender and number violations in the use of clitic pronouns in Spanish sentences. ...
... Another contributing factor may be the very limited cooperation between linguists and psychologists. Psychologists either do not take linguistic theories into account, or, if there are linguistic theories which have made their way into psycholinguistic research, they tend to derive from the UG model (see, e.g., Rossi et al. 2014;Rossi et al. 2017), whereas linguistics certainly has more to offer than this! Linguists could benefit from a careful consideration of the neurolinguistic research outlined above. ...
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This article focuses on the uncertainty surrounding the issue of the Critical Period Hypothesis. It puts forward the case that, with regard to naturalistic situations, the hypothesis has the status of both “not proven” and unfalsified. The article analyzes a number of reasons for this situation, including the effects of multi-competence, which remove any possibility that competence in more than one language can ever be identical to monolingual competence. With regard to the formal instructional setting, it points to many decades of research showing that, as critical period advocates acknowledge, in a normal schooling situation, adolescent beginners in the long run do as well as younger beginners. The article laments the profusion of definitions of what the critical period for language actually is and the generally piecemeal nature of research into this important area. In particular, it calls for a fuller integration of recent neurolinguistic perspectives into discussion of the age factor in second language acquisition research.
... Prior research suggests that, when processing syntactic ambiguity, L2 speakers have greater difficulties revising misinterpretations [48] and exhibit different (or greater variability in) attachment preferences from native (L1) speakers [49][50][51]. Although general differences between L1 and L2 processing have been previously explained in terms of processing constraints in the L2 [52], more recent evidence suggests that both languages engage the same neural and cognitive processes [53][54][55] and that these differences reflect variability in proficiency [56], speed of lexical access [57], and cognitive control ability [14]. In this sense, L2 processing may be more susceptible to irrelevant (within-language and cross-language) interference [58], given that both languages compete for cognitive resources. ...
... However, for bilinguals, it may be possible to observe a dissociation between the two processes when conflict resolution resources are readily available. This may be especially true for bilinguals who speak English as the L2, since, as previously mentioned, L2 sentence processing is likely to be more susceptible to interference [56]. ...
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Bilinguals learn to resolve conflict between their two languages and that skill has been hypothesized to create long-term adaptive changes in cognitive functioning. Yet, little is known about how bilinguals recruit cognitive control to enable efficient use of one of their languages, especially in the less skilled and more effortful second language (L2). Here we examined how real-time cognitive control engagement influences L2 sentence comprehension (i.e., conflict adaptation). We tested a group of English monolinguals and a group of L2 English speakers using a recently-developed cross-task adaptation paradigm. Stroop sequences were pseudo-randomly interleaved with a visual-world paradigm in which participants were asked to carry out spoken instructions that were either syntactically ambiguous or unambiguous. Consistent with previous research, eye-movement results showed that Stroop-related conflict improved the ability to engage correct-goal interpretations, and disengage incorrect-goal interpretations, during ambiguous instructions. Such cognitive-to-language modulations were similar in both groups, but only in the engagement piece. In the disengagement portion, the modulation emerged earlier in bilinguals than in monolinguals, suggesting group differences in attentional disengagement following cognitive control recruitment. Additionally, incorrect-goal eye-movements were modulated by individual differences in working memory, although differently for each group, suggesting an involvement of both language-specific and domain-general resources.
... In contrast, Rossi et al. (2006) showed that German sentences containing syntactic-category anomalies and agreement violations elicited comparable ERP signatures in native speakers and high proficiency L2 learners, but not in low proficiency L2 learners, who showed a delayed ERP pattern for syntactic-category violations, and only a P600 effect with no native-like LAN for agreement violations. Subsequently, Rossi et al. (2014) revealed that highly proficient late L2 learners can show mastery of features that are encoded on a grammatical morpheme (gender and number) even when these are absent in the native language (e.g. Spanish clitic pronouns that are absent in L1 English). ...
... Lexical access is typically delayed in the L2, so it is possible that L2 learners simply do not have time to make predictions about upcoming words because they are still attempting to process their current input. Alternatively, to the extent that cognitive resources are required to inhibit a L2 comprehender's L1, resources will be correspondingly less available for nonessential online predictive processes (Havik, Roberts, van Hout, Schreuder, & Haverkort, 2009;Linck, Kroll, & Sunderman, 2009;Martin et al., 2013;Rossi, Kroll, & Dussias, 2014). At very high proficiency levels, Hopp (2013) has found that English-German L2 speakers do appear to exhibit predictive processing of grammatical forms. ...
Article
When native speakers judge the acceptability of novel sentences, they appear to implicitly take competing formulations into account, judging novel sentences with a readily available alternative formulation to be less acceptable than novel sentences with no competing alternative. Moreover, novel sentences with a competing alternative are more strongly dispreferred when they contain high- compared to low-frequency verbs. We replicate these findings with a group of native speakers and extend the paradigm to second language (L2) users. Previous work has found that compared to native speakers, L2 users are less able to generate online expectations during language processing, implying a reduced ability to differentiate between novel sentences with and without a competing alternative. We test this prediction and confirm that, while L2 speakers learn from positive exemplars, they show no evidence of taking competing grammatical alternatives into account, except at the highest quartile of speaking proficiency, where L2 judgments align with native speaker judgments. © 2015 Language Learning Research Club, University of Michigan.
... Although in our study we only manipulated aspects of clitic placement, rather than agreement, the latter has also been shown to be problematic in L2 acquisition. A recent study by Rossi, Kroll, and Dussias ( 2014 ), for instance, showed that advanced L2 learners displayed sensitivity to number violations but not gender violations in the processing of clitic pronouns in the L2. ...
Article
This study investigates the degree to which native-English speaking learners of Spanish can generate expectations for information likely to occur in upcoming portions of an unfolding linguistic signal. We examine Spanish Clitic Left Dislocation, a long-distance dependency between a topicalized object and an agreeing clitic, whose felicity depends on the discourse. Using a self-paced reading task, we tested the predictions of the Shallow Structure Hypothesis (SSH; Clahsen & Felser, 2006a,b) and the Reduced Ability to Generate Expectations hypothesis (RAGE; Grüter, Rohde, & Schafer, 2014). Learners successfully demonstrated sensitivity to the violation of expectations set up by the syntactic and discourse context. In addition, the behavior of the L2 learners was dependent on proficiency: the higher their proficiency, the more their behavior mirrored native speaker processing. These results support a view of SLA in which knowledge of L2 discourse-grammatical relationships is acquired slowly over the course of L2 learning.
... At the comprehension level, native Spanish adults and highly proficient late English-Spanish bilinguals showed a P600 effect for violations of both gender and number occurring at the clitic pronoun in the sentence (Rossi, Kroll, & Dussias, 2014). The sentence comprehension has been also assessed through some questions, as for example in some studies in English and Hebrew about sentence processing without any DO pronouns (e.g., Deevy & Leonard, 2004;Friedmann & Novogrodsky, 2011). ...
Article
Eleven native Spanish-speaking children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) (8;3-10;11) and 11 typically developing children (8;7-10;8) received a comprehensive psycholinguistic evaluation. Participants listened to either Direct Object (DO) pronoun sentences or filler sentences without any pronoun, and they decided whether a picture on the screen (depicting the antecedent, another noun in the sentence, or an unrelated object) was 'alive'. They answered comprehension questions about pronoun sentences. Children with SLI showed significantly poorer comprehension of DO pronoun sentences when answering comprehension questions than children with Typical Language Development (TLD). This poor pronoun sentence understanding correlated significantly with poor auditory sentence completion, non-word repetition task and expressive vocabulary skills. Children with SLI were significantly slower in the animacy decisions than children with TLD across all pronoun and filler sentence conditions. Both groups exhibited high accuracy in the animacy decisions for any conditions. Clinical implications are discussed.
... taient sensibles aux agrammaticalités syntaxiques et sémantiques des clitiques dans les expériences de PEV au même titre que les natifs même si cela ne se retrouvait pas dans les études offl ine de tâches métalinguistiques où ils devaient juger de la grammaticalité de phrases, particulièrement pour le groupe avec le niveau en fr ançais le plus bas.Rossi et al . (2014) ont également constaté que les apprenants avancés se montraient sensibles aux agrammaticalités syntaxiques des clitiques et qu'un ensemble d'entre eux était sensible aux agrammaticalités de genre.Cuza et al . (2013) ont mis en place plusieurs expériences de compréhension, de production et de jugement d'acceptabilité avec trois groupes d ...
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Acquisition of object pronouns in L2 French is always a source of problems for every learner regardless of their L1. Based on a study from Grüter and Crago (2012), we ran an elicited production experiment as well as a Reading Span task with two groups of learners whose L1 is German and Mandarin Chinese. A group of French native speakers was added as a control group. We looked at the acquisition of object pronouns in different contexts and depending on the verb type. Our results show that the two groups of learners have a similar pattern of production. Furthermore, reflexive pronouns seem to be the most difficult type of pronouns to master for both groups of Mandarin Chinese and German. This indicates that reflexives are different from other object pronouns and more difficult to master. Our findings suggest that influence of the L1 and level in L2 French are not the major factors for explaining Second Language Acquisition of object pronouns, but that Working Memory does play a role as well.
... ERP studies focussing on agreement processing in sentence comprehension have typically shown that gender violations elicit a greater posterior positivity around 500 ms after stimulus onset (i.e. P600, monolinguals: Barber & Carreiras, 2005;Barber, Salillas, & Carreiras, 2004;Deutsch & Bentin, 2001;Gunter, Friederici, & Schriefers, 2000;Hagoort, 2003;Hagoort & Brown, 1999;Molinaro, Vespignani, & Job, 2008b;Wicha, Moreno, & Kutas, 2004; highly proficient bilinguals: Bañon, Fiorentino, & Gabriele, 2014;Dowens, Guo, Guo, Barber, & Carreiras, 2011;Dowens, Vergara, Barber, & Carreiras, 2010;Rossi, Kroll, & Dussias, 2014), as compared to the corresponding correct sentence. This positive effect has been interpreted as reflecting processes of syntactic re-analysis and repair (Friederici, 2002;Molinaro, Kim, Vespignani, & Job, 2008a;Molinaro, Vespignani, Zamparelli, & Job, 2011), monitoring (Van de Meeredonk, Kolk, Chwilla, & Vissers, 2009), or higher-level integration (Brouwer, Fitz, & Hoeks, 2012). ...
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The present ERP study was aimed at testing whether form:function mappings can differently affect sentence comprehension in early bilinguals with a range of linguistic profiles. Basque-Spanish and Spanish-Basque early bilinguals were presented with Spanish sentences with article-noun gender agreement violations. The gender of the target noun could be retrieved based on the word-form (i.e., transparent nouns) or only on a lexical representation (i.e. opaque nouns). While Basque-dominant bilinguals showed an impact of gender-to-ending consistency on agreement computation, Spanish-dominant bilinguals’ agreement processing was not affected by form-function mappings. A multiple regression analysis on early ERP responses from all participants showed that the more Spanish was produced on a daily basis, the easier the detection of gender violation for opaque nouns. The present results suggest that the strength of the lexical representation of gender is not fixed and can change depending on the linguistic habits of early bilinguals.
... Each rANOVA used condition and electrode as within-subject factors. For switch vs. switch comparisons, we focused our statistical analysis on midline electrodes (Fz, Cz, Pz, Oz) in the 300-500 and 500-700 ms following Rossi, Kroll, and Dussias (2014). For switch vs. non-switch comparisons, rANOVAs were conducted on anterior electrode sites (FP1/FP2, F7/F8, F3/ F4, Fz) in the early time window of 230-330 ms. ...
Article
We report three experiments on two groups of Spanish–English bilinguals who differed in codeswitching experience (codeswitchers and non-codeswitchers) to examine how different production choices predict comprehension difficulty. Experiment 1 examined the processing of gender congruent and gender incon-gruent determiner-noun switches in sentential contexts using event-related potentials. While codeswitchers demonstrated N400 sensitivity to congruency manipulations, non-codeswitchers showed a modulation of early frontal EEG activity to switching, regardless of switch type. Experiment 2 validated the translation-equivalent target words compared in Experiment 1. In Experiment 3, the bilinguals who participated in Experiment 1 completed a task that elicited naturally-produced codeswitched speech. Codeswitchers switched more often than non-codeswitchers, and their switches robustly reflected the conditions that were more easily processed in Experiment 1. Together, the results indicate the comprehension system becomes optimally attuned to variation in the input, and demonstrate that switching costs depend on the type of codeswitch and bilinguals' language experience.
... One perspective proposes that late L2 representation and processing is hard-wired by maturational constraints and is fundamentally different than native language processing, especially when the grammatical structures of the two languages differ (e.g., Johnson and Newport, 1991;Weber-Fox and Neville, 1996;MacWhinney, 2005;Clahsen and Felser, 2006;Sabourin et al., 2006;Sabourin and Stowe, 2008). In contrast, processing-based accounts of L2 acquisition posit that native-like processing is possible for individuals who acquire an L2 after childhood, with some late learners acquiring a high level of L2 proficiency (e.g., McDonald, 2000;Birdsong and Molis, 2001;McLaughlin et al., 2010;Coughlin and Tremblay, 2012;Rossi et al., 2014). Other studies have shown that proficient late L2 speakers are also able to exploit cognitive resources that are central for on-line language processing (e.g., Hopp, 2010Hopp, , 2014Linck et al., 2014). ...
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Morphological brain changes as a consequence of new learning have been widely established. Learning a second language (L2) is one such experience that can lead to rapid structural neural changes. However, still relatively little is known about how levels of proficiency in the L2 and the age at which the L2 is learned influence brain neuroplasticity. The goal of this study is to provide novel evidence for the effect of bilingualism on white matter structure in relatively proficient but late L2 learners who acquired the second language after early childhood. Overall, the results demonstrate a significant effect on white matter fractional anisotropy (FA) as a function of L2 learning. Higher FA values were found in a broad white matter network including the anterior thalamic radiation (ATR), the inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus (IFOF), the Uncinate Fasciculus (UF), and the inferior longitudinal fasciculus (ILF). Moreover, FA values were correlated with age of L2 acquisition, suggesting that learning an L2, even past childhood, induces neural changes. Finally, these results provide some initial evidence that variability in the age of L2 acquisition has important consequences for neural plasticity.
... At the comprehension level, native Spanish adults and highly proficient late English-Spanish bilinguals showed a P600 effect for violations of both gender and number occurring at the clitic pronoun in the sentence (Rossi, Kroll, & Dussias, 2014). The sentence comprehension has been also assessed through some questions, as for example in some studies in English and Hebrew about sentence processing without any DO pronouns (e.g., Deevy & Leonard, 2004;Friedmann & Novogrodsky, 2011). ...
Article
Purpose: This paper examines whether bilingual children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) showed limited comprehension of Direct Object (DO) pronoun sentences and/or morphosyntactic priming compared to children with Typical Language Development (TLD) and adults. We analyzed the relation of these morphosyntactic processes to other psycholinguistic abilities, according to the MUC (Memory-Unification-Control) model. Method: Ten bilingual native Spanish-speaking children with SLI (8;3-10;6) and 10 age-matched children with TLD (7;6-10;10) received a psycholinguistic evaluation in Spanish-English. The 20 children and 10 adults (19-34) performed an on-line cross-modal pronoun task. They listened to long distance animate DO pronoun sentences, and filler sentences without any pronoun. At the offset of the pronoun in each pronoun sentence, a picture of an animal for the antecedent (match condition), another animal for the second noun (mismatch), or an unrelated object (neutral) was displayed on the screen. In the filler sentences, a picture of an object that depicted the first noun, appeared at the offset of another later noun. Participants decided whether that pictured item was "alive"/"not alive" by pressing two keys on the computer keyboard. Immediately after, they answered an oral comprehension question about the DO pronoun sentence. Results: Bilingual children with SLI showed significantly poorer comprehension of DO pronoun sentences than bilingual children with TLD. Pronoun sentence understanding in the overall children correlated significantly with oral sentence completion, expressive vocabulary abilities, auditory story comprehension, and the non-word repetition task, all in Spanish. Adults showed significantly the highest pronoun sentence comprehension, and the fastest animacy decisions across conditions; it was the only group showing a significant behavioral morphosyntactic priming effect. All groups exhibited high accuracy in the animacy decisions across conditions, although children with SLI showed lower accuracy and more variability. Conclusion: Bilingual Spanish-English children with SLI showed significant limitations in understanding long distance animate DO pronoun sentences. The deficits were also related to weak morphosyntactic, lexical, and/or phonological representations stored in their memory. These processes may be harder to combine in the unification process, and also to control for answering the comprehension questions. Clinical and educational implications are discussed.
... The study focuses on inflectional morphology, a domain of grammar that is known to be problematic for adult L2 learners across the proficiency spectrum (e.g. [1][2][3][4][5][6]). More specifically, we examine noun-adjective number and gender agreement. ...
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We used event-related potentials to investigate morphosyntactic development in 78 adult English-speaking learners of Spanish as a second language (L2) across the proficiency spectrum. We examined how development is modulated by the similarity between the native language (L1) and the L2, by comparing number (a feature present in English) and gender agreement (novel feature). We also investigated how development is impacted by structural distance, manipulating the distance between the agreeing elements by probing both within-phrase (fruta muy jugosa “fruit-FEM-SG very juicy-FEM-SG”) and across-phrase agreement (fresa es ácida “strawberry-FEM-SG is tart-FEM-SG”). Regression analyses revealed that the learners’ overall proficiency, as measured by a standardized test, predicted their accuracy with the target properties in the grammaticality judgment task (GJT), but did not predict P600 magnitude to the violations. However, a relationship emerged between immersion in Spanish-speaking countries and P600 magnitude for gender. Our results also revealed a correlation between accuracy in the GJT and P600 magnitude, suggesting that behavioral sensitivity to the target property predicts neurophysiological sensitivity. Subsequent group analyses revealed that the highest-proficiency learners showed equally robust P600 effects for number and gender. This group also elicited more positive waveforms for within- than across-phrase agreement overall, similar to the native controls. The lowest-proficiency learners showed a P600 for number overall, but no effects for gender. Unlike the highest-proficiency learners, they also showed no sensitivity to structural distance, suggesting that sensitivity to such linguistic factors develops over time. Overall, these results suggest an important role for proficiency in morphosyntactic development, although differences emerged between behavioral and electrophysiological measures. While L2 proficiency predicted behavioral sensitivity to agreement, development with respect to the neurocognitive mechanisms recruited in processing only emerged when comparing the two extremes of the proficiency spectrum. Importantly, while both L1-L2 similarity and hierarchical structure impact development, they do not constrain it.
... Most of the recent experimental studies of Romance clitics in native speakers have used elicited production and comprehension, focusing on either pronoun omission or gender-number agreement (e.g., Cuza et al., 2013;Grüter & Crago, 2012;Rossi, 2013), 2 although the latter topic was investigated by Rossi et al. (2014) using ERPs. However, aside from Rossi's (2013) work on Italian agrammatic aphasics, there have been no studies of clitic placement (i.e., word order), particularly in terms of native language influence in L2. ...
... (5b)) reports only a limited performance with object clitics in agrammatic speakers who produced less clitics than controls during spontaneous speech production (Experiment 1) as well as in the context of a priming paradigm (Experiments 2 and 3). With respect to L2 research, Rossi et al. (2014), in an ERP study, report that a subset of their highly proficient English-Spanish late bilingual speakers performed comparably on the detection of wrong uses of clitics in terms of their featural specification for gender and number, while less proficient late bilinguals showed a more limited performance than monolingual controls. Clitics in L2 were also argued to be subject to positive L1 transfer, whenever clitic placement rules in L1 are similar to those in L2. ...
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This study investigates the processing of long-distance syntactic dependencies by native speakers of Slovenian (L1) who are advanced learners of Italian as a second language (L2), compared with monolingual Italian speakers. Using a self-paced reading task, we compare sensitivity of the early-acquired L2 learners to syntactic anomalies in their L2 in two empirical domains: (1) syntactic islands, for which the learners’ L1 and L2 grammars provide a converging characterization, and (2) verb–clitic constructions, for which the respective L1 and L2 grammatical descriptions diverge. We find that although our L2 learners show native-like processing patterns in the former, converging, grammatical domain, they may nevertheless perform non-native-like with respect to syntactic phenomena in which the L1 and L2 grammars do not align, despite the early age of L2 acquisition. Implications for theories of L2 acquisition and endstate are discussed.
... For example, Andersen (1984) found that the first person was produced earlier than the third person in beginning level learners' oral productions. Rossi, Kroll and Dussias (2014) stated that Spanish learners' acquisition of number and gender agreement appeared at a later developmental stage when the students' first language lacked the number and gender feature. ...
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Technology-Mediated Task-Based Language Teaching is the combination of technology with Task-Based Language Teaching (González-Lloret & Ortega, 2014) and emphasizes authentic communication and holistic language learning opportunities in Second Language Acquisition. Since its introduction almost thirty-five years ago, Task- Based Language Teaching has received widespread attention from researchers in the fields of Second Language education due to its collaborative nature and the interaction and negotiation of meaning that result from its implementation (Robinson, 2011). Task- Based Language Teaching represents a paradigm shift of mainstream views about language teaching from a focus on ‘knowledge of language’ to a pragmatic and experiential focus on ‘achiev[ing] communicative purposes’ (Scarino & Liddicoat, 2009, p. 45). Still, relatively few studies have addressed grammar acquisition in online courses from a Task-Based perspective. The present study sought to examine the effects of an online Task-Based Language Teaching module on the acquisition of direct and indirect object pronouns in Spanish. These grammatical structures are used very frequently by native Spanish speakers, but are less used by Spanish learners because of their difficulty. The main problem is that object clitics in Spanish normally create a structure that appears to be (Subject)-Object-Verb. This can be especially difficult for native speakers of English since these speakers are accustomed to Subject-Verb-Object. Furthermore, Spanish indirect object pronouns look exactly like direct object pronouns except for the third person singular and plural. Hence, learning how to use and distinguish between the direct object and indirect object pronouns is challenging. The results of this study demonstrate the benefits of using an online Task-Based Language Teaching module specially designed for the acquisition of direct and indirect object pronouns in Spanish. Participants in the experimental group used the target structures on many occasions, and their results exceeded those of the control group—the mean of the experimental group was 7.50, whereas the mean of the control group was 1.23. Similarly, students in the experimental group also produced five times more instances of the target structures than students in the control group in an identical final exam activity that both groups had to complete—3.22 vs 0.64, respectively. Thus, the data obtained in this study manifest that technology-mediated TBLT can be particularly valuable in the acquisition of L2 grammar.
... In contrast, Rossi et al. (2006) showed that German sentences containing syntactic-category anomalies and agreement violations elicited comparable ERP signatures in native speakers and high proficiency L2 learners, but not in low proficiency L2 learners, who showed a delayed ERP pattern for syntactic-category violations, and only a P600 effect with no native-like LAN for agreement violations. Subsequently, Rossi et al. (2014) revealed that highly proficient late L2 learners can show mastery of features that are encoded on a grammatical morpheme (gender and number) even when these are absent in the native language (e.g. Spanish clitic pronouns that are absent in L1 English). ...
Article
This chapter discusses how the electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) methods have been used to study the multilingual brain. It introduces the methods, the physiological basis of the data obtained from them, and the advantages and disadvantages of the methods compared to each other and to other neuroimaging techniques. The chapter briefly presents how these techniques have been used to address questions about the multilingual brain. The most common way of analysing continuously recorded language‐related EEG and MEG data is to extract event‐related potentials (ERPs) or event‐related fields (ERFs), respectively. In a neurocognitive framework, the mastery of a second language is thought to involve the ability not only to represent linguistic knowledge, but also to process linguistic input in a native‐like manner. The chapter briefly presents a sample of studies that have measured the brain signatures for language switching, first in production then during written sentence comprehension, in bilinguals and professional simultaneous interpreters.
... ; bilingual children:Argyri & Sorace 2007;Sorace, Serratrice, Filiaci & Baldo 2009; for object pronouns in L2 speakers and bilingual children:Girbau, 2018;Rossi, Dussias & Kroll, 2014). On the other hand, research focusing on adult learners of non-null subject languages, such as English, has demonstrated that intermediate proficiency adult L2 speakers can interpret subject pronouns in the L2 like native speakers (Contemori & Dussias, 2019; Contemori & Dussias, accepted; Contemori, Asiri & Perea Irigoyen, 2019; Cunnings Fotiadou & Tsimpli, 2016). ...
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Existing research on second language (L2) pronoun resolution has not yet looked at immediate and cumulative priming effects. By using a sentence comprehension task, the present study aims at priming dis-preferred interpretations for ambiguous pronouns. We test a group of native speakers and a group of intermediate-proficiency L2 learners of English, whose first language (L1) is Mexican Spanish. The results suggest that the magnitude of the immediate priming effect is comparable in L2 and native speakers. In addition, we found that priming at the discourse level can be persistent for L2 speakers that have successfully acquired pronoun interpretation constraints in the L2. Based on the findings, we hypothesize that priming can be determined by the degree to which the structure is a stable representation in the leaner’s system, regardless of the amount of experience with that structure/preference.
... A more sensitive methodology with finer temporal resolution could perhaps shed more light on the topic (e.g. see Rossi et al., 2014: for electrophysiological evidence of sensitivity to gender on clitics in Spanish). The higher degree of resilience in reacting to a gender violation on a clitic target (compared to an adjectival predicate) needs further investigation, considering also the fact that object-clitics are highly frequent in Greek compared to secondary adjectival predication. ...
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Diese Dissertation betrachtet die Beziehung zwischen Parser und Grammatik bei Muttersprachlern (Native Speakers, NS) und Heritage- (Erb-) Sprechern (HS) des Griechischen, indem sie die Mechanismen untersucht, die einer pseudo-Lizenzierung bei Verletzungen der Kongruenz des grammatischen Geschlechts zugrunde liegen. Diese Verletzungen sind Fehler, die auftreten, wenn eine intervenierende Phrase (Attraktor) nicht mit den Genusmerkmalen des Kopfnomens übereinstimmt, ein Phänomen, das in der Literatur (Gender-)Agreement Attraktion, hier Attraktion von Genuskongruenz, genannt wird. Die Dissertation testet, ob eine solche Attraktion von Genuskongruenz im Griechischen vorhanden ist und ob ein- und zweisprachige Muttersprachler gleichermaßen anfällig für Fehler bei der Attraktion sind. Die Dissertation untersucht für die Gruppe der HS außerdem die Genuskongruenz beim Echtzeit-Sprachverstehen und -produzieren. In der Arbeit zeige ich, dass sowohl NS als auch HS anfällig für Attraktionsfehler bei der Genuskongruenz sind. Das zeigen die Reaktionszeitmuster und die Urteile. Gleichzeitig zeigten bei mündlichen Erzählungen beide Sprechergruppen die gleichen Übergeneralisierungsmuster für maskulines Genus bei belebten Nomen sowie bei mündlichen Erzählungen und beschleunigten Grammatikalitätsurteilen für Neutrum bei unbelebten Nomen. Zusammengenommen deuten diese Ergebnisse darauf hin, dass NS und HS anfällig für die Attraktion von Genuskongruenz sind und dass beide Gruppen ähnliche Hinweise zum Abruf des Genus verwenden und somit ähnliche Attraktionsmuster aufweisen. HS unterscheiden sich jedoch von NS in der Verarbeitung der Genuskongruenz an sich, insbesondere bei femininen Kopfnomen (markiertes Genus) in Objekt-Klitika, was darauf hindeutet, dass sowohl Markiertheit als auch Kongruenz an den Schnittstellen die Leistung von HS beeinflusst. Wenn Fehler auftreten, folgen beide Gruppen den gleichen Mustern der Übergeneralisierung.
... ERPs have been also critical to understand similarities and differences between native and second language processing even in speakers who acquire a second language past a critical period for language acquisition. To exemplify, Rossi, Kroll, and Dussias (2014) analyzed ERPs to ask if adult English native speakers who were learners of Spanish as their second language could process grammatical gender and number marked on pronouns as native speakers'. Importantly, grammatical gender, that is gender marking for inanimate objects is a feature that is not present in English, but that is marked in Spanish, as for example in "Ana compra la manzana feminine singular y la feminine singular come. ...
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Brain plasticity associated with second language acquisition and learning has been a focus of research in the past two decades. Recent research on cognitive neuroscience has enriched current understanding on the neurological underpinning of second language learning. Beyond behavioral findings, examining brain functions and structures provides a biological explanation of how language acquisition (as a natural experience) and learning (as an active skill and knowledge acquisition process) shapes the human brain. Together, combining cognitive neuroscience methods and second language acquisition and learning has offered an opportunity for cross-disciplinary collaboration. To facilitate cross-disciplinary understanding and potential research collaboration, this review paper aims to provide an overview of the major cognitive neuroscience methodologies adopted to study second language acquisition and learning. A selection of empirical studies covers second language acquisition in developing children, bilingualism as a naturally-occurring experience, and short-term second language learning in laboratory settings. Brain structural (diffusion tensor imaging, DTI; and voxel-based morphometry, VBM) and functional (electroencephalography, EEG; and event-related potentials, EPRs) methods are briefly discussed with suggested further readings. The paper ends with future directions using these methodologies to explore brain changes in response to second language teaching and learning experience.
... A central question in second language (L2) acquisition research concerns how learners represent and utilize morphosyntactic features. One generalization that emerges from this literature is that learners show variability in the comprehension and use of inflection (i.e., the morphological exponence of features), even at high-proficiency levels (e.g., Franceschina, 2005;Grüter et al., 2012;Hopp, 2010;Keating, 2009Keating, , 2010Lardiere, 1998;McCarthy, 2008McCarthy, , 2012Rossi et al., 2014;Tsimpli & Dimitrakopoulou, 2007;see Slabakova, 2018). ...
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We used event-related potentials to investigate how markedness impacts person agreement in English-speaking learners of L2 Spanish. Markedness was examined by probing agreement with both first-person (marked) and third-person (unmarked) subjects. Agreement was manipulated by crossing first-person subjects with third-person verbs and vice-versa. Native speakers showed a P600 for both errors, larger for “first-person subject + third-person verb” violations. This aligns with claims that, when the first element in the dependency is marked (first-person), the parser generates stronger predictions regarding upcoming agreeing elements via feature activation. Twenty-two upper-intermediate/advanced learners elicited a P600 across both errors. Learners were equally accurate detecting both errors, but the P600 was marginally reduced for “first-person subject + third-person verb” violations, suggesting that learners overuse unmarked forms (third-person) online. However, this asymmetry mainly characterized lower-proficiency learners. Results suggest that markedness impacts L2 agreement without constraining it, although learners are less likely to use marked features predictively.
... In terms of comparisons between L1 and L2 syntactic processing, it seems that convergence is most likely with local dependencies. Advanced L2 learners, for example, have been found to show sensitivity to morphosyntactic agreement violations in their L2, regardless of differences in the agreement system of their L1 (Rossi, Gugler, Friederici, & Hahne, 2006;Rossi, Kroll, & Dussias, 2014;Sagarra & Herschensohn 2010. However, sensitivity to agreement violations seems to decrease as the distance between the constituents in a dependency relationship increases (Dowens, Vergara, Barber, & Carreiras, 2010;Keating, 2009), in accordance with the idea that syntactic predictions maintained in memory over longer temporal distances are more costly (Gibson, 1998, p. 8), and so may overburden an already taxed L2 processing system. ...
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A fundamental question in the study of human language is why, compared to the acquisition of a first language (L1), second language (L2) acquisition should have such widely varying outcomes. Relatedly, there is a question regarding the upper limits on L2 acquisition, namely whether it is possible for learners who have not acquired a language from birth to perform identically to native speakers of that language. Experimental psycholinguistic techniques offer insight into the moment-by-moment processes involved in language comprehension and production, and in recent years have increasingly been employed to investigate L2 and bilingual processing, both in their own right and in relation to L1 processing. In this dissertation, such techniques are employed to investigate L2 English syntactic processing among early L2 acquirers (L1 Afrikaans) who receive extensive naturalistic exposure to the L2 and have attained high proficiency therein. Second language populations with this combination of features, each of which has been shown to affect processing outcomes, are understudied in the literature, as are highly linguistically diverse settings such as South Africa. There is thus little information available regarding the consequences of this particular constellation of individual- and environmental-level characteristics on ultimate levels of L2 attainment. The studies presented in the dissertation focus on three syntactic phenomena that have been shown to be processed in a non-nativelike fashion by L2 speakers. These are temporarily ambiguous or so-called garden-path sentences, pronouns, and long-distance wh-dependencies. The techniques of self-paced reading and eye-tracking-while-reading were utilized to obtain real-time processing data. These data were supplemented by measures of L2 proficiency and language background. First-language speakers of South African English were employed as a comparison group. The findings show L1–L2 convergence for a subset of the L2 participants – those with a relatively earlier age of L2 acquisition – in the garden-path sentence processing experiment. In the pronoun resolution experiment, evidence of cross-linguistic influence at the verb level is observed, which subsequently affects processing at the sentence level. Finally, in the processing of long-distance wh-dependencies, the strategies employed by the L1 and L2 speakers differ, with awareness of an abstract syntactic cue being evident in the L1 but not the L2 speakers. The results provide insight into the implications of the South African language acquisition and use contexts for L2 development. A more general consideration of these implications as they relate to other multilingual settings contributes to our knowledge of L2 attainment in linguistically heterogeneous environments.
... Furthermore, agreement violations have been reported, in a subset of studies, to elicit other types of electrophysiological responses, such as a biphasic pattern where the P600 is preceded by a negativity in the 200-500 ms time window, often with a left-anterior distribution, known as the LAN (e.g., Friederici, Hahne, & Mecklinger, 1996;Molinaro, Barber, Caffarra, & Carreiras, 2015). 2 Non-native speakers display more variability in their electrophysiological responses to agreement violations, which vary as a function of factors such as L2 proficiency and L1-L2 combination (see, e.g., Alemán Bañón et al., 2018). N400 responses without a subsequent positivity, which are rare in sentential contexts in the native speaker literature, can be found in low-proficiency L2 speakers for agreement violations of both shared (L1-L2) and novel (L2 only) features (e.g., Carrasco et al., 2017;Osterhout, McLaughlin, Pitkanen, Frenck-Mestre & Molinaro, 2006;Tanner, McLaughlin, Herschensohn, & Osterhout, 2013), which tend to elicit more native-like, positive-dominant responses at higher proficiency (e.g., Alemán Bañón, Fiorentino, & Gabriele, 2014Foucart & Frenck-Mestre, 2012; see also Rossi, Kroll, & Dussias, 2014, where the novel feature, gender, only elicited native-like responses at very high proficiency). The rate of development to native-like processing of agreement dependencies, however, is arguably faster for non-novel features (i.e., those already present in the L1; e.g., Gabriele et al., 2013), for which P600-like responses have been reported even at low levels of proficiency (e.g., Alemán Bañón et al., 2018;Alemán Bañón, Hoffman, Covey, Rossomondo & Fiorentino, under review;Tokowicz & MacWhinney, 2005;cf. ...
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The present article examines the proposal that typology is a major factor guiding transfer selectivity in L3/Ln acquisition. We tested first exposure in L3/Ln using two artificial languages (ALs) lexically based in English and Spanish, focusing on gender agreement between determiners and nouns, and between nouns and adjectives. 50 L1 Spanish-L2 English speakers took part in the experiment. After receiving implicit training in one of the ALs (Mini-Spanish, N = 26; Mini-English, N = 24), gender violations elicited a fronto-lateral negativity in Mini-English in the earliest time window (200–500 ms), although this was not followed by any other differences in subsequent periods. This effect was highly localized, surfacing only in electrodes of the right-anterior region. In contrast, gender violations in Mini-Spanish elicited a broadly distributed positivity in the 300–600 ms time window. While we do not find typical indices of grammatical processing such as the P600 component, we believe that the between-groups differential appearance of the positivity for gender violations in the 300–600 ms time window reflects differential allocation of attentional resources as a function of the ALs’ lexical similarity to English or Spanish. We take these differences in attention to be precursors of the processes involved in transfer source selection in L3/Ln.
... Whereas the processing of anaphoric relations has received considerable attention in English, Dutch, and German (Callahan, 2008), only limited evidence comes from Romance languages, mainly Italian (Domaneschi, Canal, Masia, Lombardi Vallauri, & Bambini, 2018;Masia, Canal, Ricci, Lombardi Vallauri, & Bambini, 2017). Another topic that would deserve more attention in relation to Romance languages is the study of clitics and other reduced pronominal forms, up to now confined mainly to investigations in the context of bilingualism (German, Herschensohn, & Frenck-Mestre, 2015;Rossi, Kroll, & Dussias, 2014). ...
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Chapter to be included in "The Oxford Encyclopedia of Romance Linguistics", Eds. Michele Loporcaro & Francesco Gardani, Oxford University Press, 2020. It reviews neurolinguistic research conducted on Romance languages and discusses how the literature on this language family has advanced our understanding of the neural correlates of language.
... This has been examined both as concerns whether they can acquire enough lexical knowledge to assign the correct gender to nouns in tests without time limits (offline tasks) and at the ultimate point, when, like native speakers, they are able to apply the agreement rule during real-time processing (online tasks). Results from ERP and eye-tracking studies have demonstrated that with enough proficiency and/or exposure, L2 learners whose L1 does not have grammatical gender show sensitivity to gender violations during online processing (e.g., Foucart & Frenck-Mestre, 2012;Gabriele et al., 2013;Gillon-Dowens et al., 2010Keating, 2009;Rossi et al., 2014;Tokowicz & MacWhinney, 2005, but see Sabourin & Stowe, 2008). The ability to learn new features and compute agreement during real-time processing seems to be modulated by various factors such as proficiency (for a review, van Hell & Tokowicz, 2010). ...
Article
We investigated the extent to which second-language (L2) learning is influenced by the similarity of grammatical features in one's first language (L1). We used event-related potentials to identify neural signatures of a novel grammatical rule – grammatical gender – in L1 English speakers. Of interest was whether individual differences in L2 proficiency and age of acquisition (AoA) influenced these effects. L2 and native speakers of French read French sentences that were grammatically correct, or contained either a grammatical gender or word order violation. Proficiency and AoA predicted Left Anterior Negativity amplitude, with structure violations driving the proficiency effect and gender violations driving the AoA effect. Proficiency, group, and AoA predicted P600 amplitude for gender violations but not structure violations. Different effects of grammatical gender and structure violations indicate that L2 speakers engage novel grammatical processes differently from L1 speakers and that this varies appreciably based on both AoA and proficiency.
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A longstanding question in the second language acquisition literature is whether late second language (L2) learners process grammatical structures in a native-like manner. Here, we use Time Frequency Representation (TFR) analysis to test morpho-syntactic processing of clitic pronouns in native and late L2 learners of Spanish. The TFR results show overall similar power decreases in theta, alpha, and beta frequencies in both groups. Critically, the observed oscillatory effects persisted in time for native Spanish speakers, but declined earlier for L2 learners. We discuss the results using cell-assembly theory models for language processing (e.g., Pulvermüller, 1999) that posit a biphasic time-course for neural assemblies consisting of an early ignition (recognition) and a later reverberation (re-processing) phase. We propose a working hypothesis for L2 processing in tune with a cell-assembly theory suggesting that the length of the reverberation phase could be a distinguishing feature between native and L2 processing.
Article
This present study investigates the acquisition of Spanish clitics among 21 simultaneous and sequential Chinese/Spanish bilinguals from Peru and 21 Chinese L2 learners of Spanish from China. Results from a story-retelling task showed an advantage by the simultaneous bilinguals regarding target clitic use. However, the sequential bilinguals and the adult L2 learners did not show significant differences among themselves. Both groups showed non-canonical use of clitics and the L2 learners showed divergences with gender marking and clitic clusters. We argue that, while earlier exposure to Spanish facilitates the canonical use of clitic, especially in the complex structure of clitic clusters, instructional learning setting showed an effect similar to naturalistic learning regarding the production of clitics and gender specification. However, clitic cluster presents higher difficulty that may not be overcome by instruction only.
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This study tests the time course of language activation in reading for translation. Reading for translation has been modeled vertically (two monolingual systems activated serially), horizontally (both monolingual systems automatically activated in parallel), and as some blend of these perspectives. Schaeffer, Dragsted, Hvelplund, Balling, and Carl (2016b) provided evidence supporting early horizontal processing in reading for translation. Translators displayed longer first fixations when a word (for example, Spanish "grande") had been translated in more than one way ("big" and "large" in English). This has a parallel in monolingual studies, where all meanings of polysemous words can automatically be considered or accessed at an early stage (Onifer & Swinney, 1981). In the context of reading for translation, these findings suggest the study of words that are polysemous in the source language (for example, Spanish "dedo"), but where each meaning has a distinct translation in the target language ("finger" and "toe" in English). The horizontal model predicts automatic early activation of all translations of such words in the target language. On the other hand, the vertical model argues against early activation of target language words. One experiment, using eye tracking methodology, and one observational study, based on the extensive CRITT database of recordings of different translation tasks in several language pairs, were carried out to investigate the influence of dual language activation on reading for translation. To study the effects of cross-linguistic polysemy, participants sight translated sentences with ambiguous and non-ambiguous control words in neutral context. The observational analysis completed the experimental data by focusing on an English-Spanish subset of the CRITT database to assess how word translation entropy, a measure of variability of word translations in actual translation output, influenced the length of first fixation durations on a source text. Results at the micro-scale (one language pair, one translation modality) replicated to some extent macro-scale (six language pairs, four translation modalities) results and open the way for further research.
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Selective deficits in aphasic patients' grammatical production and comprehension are often cited as evidence that syntactic processing is modular and localizable in discrete areas of the brain (e.g., Y. Grodzinsky, 2000). The authors review a large body of experimental evidence suggesting that morphosyntactic deficits can be observed in a number of aphasic and neurologically intact populations. They present new data showing that receptive agrammatism is found not only over a range of aphasic groups, but is also observed in neurologically intact individuals processing under stressful conditions. The authors suggest that these data are most compatible with a domain-general account of language, one that emphasizes the interaction of linguistic distributions with the properties of an associative processor working under normal or suboptimal conditions.
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Understanding the processes that permit us to extract meaning from spoken or written linguistic input requires elucidating how, when, and where in the brain sentences and stories, syllables and words are analyzed. Because human language is a cognitive function that is not readily investigated using neuroscience approaches in animal models, this task presents special challenges. In this chapter, we describe how event-related potentials (ERPs) have contributed to the understanding of language processes as they unfold in real-time. We will provide an overview of the many ERPs that have been used in language research, and will discuss the main models of what these ERPs reflect in terms of linguistic and neural processes. In addition, using examples from the literature, we will illustrate how ERPs can be used to study language comprehension, and will also outline methodological issues that are specific to using ERPs in language research.
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This article provides a selective overview of recent event-related brain potential (ERP) studies in L2 morpho-syntax, demonstrating that the ERP evidence supporting the critical period hypothesis (CPH) may be less compelling than previously thought. The article starts with a general introduction to ERP methodology and language-related ERP profiles in native speakers. The second section presents early ERP studies supporting the CPH, discusses some of their methodological problems, and follows up with data from more recent studies avoiding these problems. It is concluded that well-controlled ERP studies support the convergence hypothesis, according to which L2 learners initially differ from native speakers and then converge on native-like neurocognitive processing mechanisms. The fact that ERPs in late L2 learners at high levels of proficiency are often indistinguishable from those of native speakers suggests that age-of-acquisition effects in SLA are not primarily driven by maturational constraints.
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Current approaches to second language acquisition (SLA) can be divided broadly into two groups: nativist models and empiricist models. Nativist models attribute language development to the operation of a universal, genetically controlled, language instinct. For researchers in the nativist tra-dition, the learning of the core features of a second language involves little more than the setting of a few switches for the parameters. Many nativists view second language acquisition as recapitulating the course of first language acquisition (Bickerton, 1984; Krashen, 1982) because a strong version of the nativist position holds that both first and second language learning are determined by the underlying principles of Universal Grammar. Empiricist approaches to second language acquisition tend to emphasize the extent to which the second language must be actually learned. Some second language researchers who are willing to grant that first language acquisition is strongly influenced by Universal Grammar are not willing to view second language acquisition in the same light (Bley-Vroman, Felix, & loup, 1988; Clahsen & Muysken, 1986; Schachter, 1989). Researchers who accept nativist approaches to first language acquisition and empiricist ap-proaches to second language acquisition often bolster their analysis by point-ing to evidence for a critical period for language learning. Johnson and Newport (1989, 1991), for example, have argued that the onset of puberty 113 114 MACWHINNEY marks the end of the critical period for language learning, after which the learner can no longer rely on the forces of Universal Grammar to facilitate the task of second language learning, (See Harley & Wang, chapter 1, this volume, for an up-to-date review of the critical-period literature.) In this chapter, we explore a position that views both first and second language learning as constructive, data-driven processes that rely not on universals of linguistic structure, but on universals of cognitive strucaire. This model is the Competition Model of MacWhinney and Bates (MacWhin-ney, 1987a, 1989, 1992). The Competition Model presents a functionalist and connectionist view of both first and second language learning that attributes development to learning and transfer, rather than to the principles and parameters of Universal Grammar. We explore how the Competition Model deals with some of the basic facts of both first and second language learning, and we focus on those aspects of the model that allow it to distinguish between the two types of language learning. Before looking at specific studies and specific findings, let us first review the basic theoretical commitments of the Competition Model. These principles are claimed to hold for both first and second language learning.
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Normal aging is an inevitable race between increasing knowledge and decreasing cognitive capacity. Crucial to understanding and promoting successful aging is determining which of these factors dominates for particular neurocognitive functions. Here, we focus on the human capacity for language, for which healthy older adults are simultaneously advantaged and disadvantaged. In recent years, a more hopeful view of cognitive aging has emerged from work suggesting that age-related declines in executive control functions are buffered by life-long bilingualism. In this paper, we selectively review what is currently known and unknown about bilingualism, executive control, and aging. Our ultimate goal is to advance the views that these issues should be reframed as a specific instance of neuroplasticity more generally and, in particular, that researchers should embrace the individual variability among bilinguals by adopting experimental and statistical approaches that respect the complexity of the questions addressed. In what follows, we set out the theoretical assumptions and empirical support of the bilingual advantages perspective, review what we know about language, cognitive control, and aging generally, and then highlight several of the relatively few studies that have investigated bilingual language processing in older adults, either on their own or in comparison with monolingual older adults. We conclude with several recommendations for how the field ought to proceed to achieve a more multifactorial view of bilingualism that emphasizes the notion of neuroplasticity over that of simple bilingual versus monolingual group comparisons.
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Meuter and Allport (1999) were among the first to implicate an inhibitory mechanism in bilingual language control. In their study, bilinguals took longer to name a number in the L1 directly following an L2 naming trial than to name a number in the L2 following an L1 naming trial, suggesting that bilinguals suppress the more dominant L1 during L2 production. Since then, asymmetric switch costs have not been replicated in all subsequent studies, and some have questioned whether switch costs necessarily reveal language inhibition. Based on methodological grounds and interpretability problems, we conclude that switch costs may not be the most reliable index of inhibition in bilingual language control. We review alternative proposals for the source of switch costs, and point to other indices of inhibition within the switching paradigm and from adapted paradigms.
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Contemporary research on bilingualism has been framed by two major discoveries. In the realm of language processing, studies of comprehension and production show that bilinguals activate information about both languages when using one language alone. Parallel activation of the two languages has been demonstrated for highly proficient bilinguals as well as second language learners and appears to be present even when distinct properties of the languages themselves might be sufficient to bias attention towards the language in use. In the realm of cognitive processing, studies of executive function have demonstrated a bilingual advantage, with bilinguals outperforming their monolingual counterparts on tasks that require ignoring irrelevant information, task switching, and resolving conflict. Our claim is that these outcomes are related and have the overall effect of changing the way that both cognitive and linguistic processing are carried out for bilinguals. In this article we consider each of these domains of bilingual performance and consider the kinds of evidence needed to support this view. We argue that the tendency to consider bilingualism as a unitary phenomenon explained in terms of simple component processes has created a set of apparent controversies that masks the richness of the central finding in this work: the adult mind and brain are open to experience in ways that create profound consequences for both language and cognition.
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Behavioral and event-related potential (ERP) measures are reported for a study in which relatively proficient Chinese-English bilinguals named identical pictures in each of their two languages. Production occurred only in Chinese (the first language, L1) or only in English (the second language, L2) in a given block with the order counterbalanced across participants. The repetition of pictures across blocks was expected to produce facilitation in the form of faster responses and more positive ERPs. However, we hypothesized that if both languages are activated when naming one language alone, there might be evidence of inhibition of the stronger L1 to enable naming in the weaker L2. Behavioral data revealed the dominance of Chinese relative to English, with overall faster and more accurate naming performance in L1 than L2. However, reaction times for naming in L1 after naming in L2 showed no repetition advantage and the ERP data showed greater negativity when pictures were named in L1 following L2. This greater negativity for repeated items suggests the presence of inhibition rather than facilitation alone. Critically, the asymmetric negativity associated with the L1 when it followed the L2 endured beyond the immediate switch of language, implying long-lasting inhibition of the L1. In contrast, when L2 naming followed L1, both behavioral and ERP evidence produced a facilitatory pattern, consistent with repetition priming. Taken together, the results support a model of bilingual lexical production in which candidates in both languages compete for selection, with inhibition of the more dominant L1 when planning speech in the less dominant L2. We discuss the implications for modeling the scope and time course of inhibitory processes.
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In order to identify the causes of inflectional variability in adult second-language (L2) acquisition, this study investigates lexical and syntactic aspects of gender processing in real-time L2 production and comprehension. Twenty advanced to near-native adult first language (L1) English speakers of L2 German and 20 native controls were tested in a study comprising two experiments. In elicited production, we probe accuracy in lexical gender assignment. In a visual-world eye tracking task, we test the predictive processing of syntactic gender agreement between determiners and nouns. The findings show clear contingencies (1) between overall accuracy in lexical gender assignment in production and target predictive processing of syntactic gender agreement in comprehension and (2) between the speed of lexical access and predictive syntactic gender agreement. These findings support lexical and computational accounts of L2 inflectional variability and argue against models positing representational deficits in morphosyntax in late L2 acquisition and processing.
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This paper investigates the formal nature of the grammar formed by adult learners of English. Two groups of subjects were tested: native English speakers, and native Chinese speakers who arrived in the United States and learned English as adults. The adult learners resided in the United States for many years prior to testing and were therefore at an asymptotic level of performance in English. The question asked is whether adult learners are as consistent in their judgments as native speakers across two testing sessions. Both groups were given the grammaticality judgment task of Johnson and Newport (1989) twice, with three weeks between tests. While native speakers' performance was highly consistent across the two testings, adult learners' performance showed a marked degree of inconsistency. It is concluded that the grammars of the adult learners are not fully determinate, and that adult learners rely on other strategies for a substantial portion of their performance in their late learned language. Late language learning is thus different from native learning not only in the ultimatelevelof performance attained, but also in thenatureof that knowledge.
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In two experiments Dutch–English bilinguals were tested with English words varying in their degree of orthographic, phonological, and semantic overlap with Dutch words. Thus, an English word target could be spelled the same as a Dutch word and/or could be a near-homophone of a Dutch word. Whether such form similarity was accompanied with semantic identity (translation equivalence) was also varied. In a progressive demasking task and a visual lexical decision task very similar results were obtained. Both tasks showed facilitatory effects of cross-linguistic orthographic and semantic similarity on response latencies to target words, but inhibitory effects of phonological overlap. A third control experiment involving English lexical decision with monolinguals indicated that these results were not due to specific characteristics of the stimulus material. The results are interpreted within an interactive activation model for monolingual and bilingual word recognition (the Bilingual Interactive Activation model) expanded with a phonological and a semantic component.
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This article re-examines the morphology/functional category debate in the light of empirical data drawn from the author’s longitudinal study of two intermediate learners of French as a second language (L2). It argues that inflectional deficits -which appear both as nonfinite verbs and as other morphological errors in the interlanguage data -support neither a codependence of syntax and morphology (Eubank, 1993/94) nor a gradual structure-building of L2 functional categories (Vainikka and Young-Scholten, 1998a, 1998b). The French data rather indicate that deficiencies in morphological mapping, not defective syntax (functional categories), are the cause of L2 failed inflection (Schwartz and Sprouse, 1996; Lardière, 1998). The data also support the claim that L2 morpholexical characteristics - the most prone to cross-linguistic variation - are more difficult to master than syntactic differences (Herschensohn, 2000). The first section reviews the theoretical issues, discussing the morphology/functional category link in L1 and then in L2 acquisition. The second section presents relevant data on infinitival forms and other errors from the author’s study. The third section discusses the data, arguing that the infinitival forms of intermediate grammars are not ‘root infinitives’ such as those seen in early stages of L1 acquisition, but rather examples of defective inflection.
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A sentence-picture matching task was used to test the ability of patients with dementia of the Alzheimer's type (DAT) and age- and education-matched control subjects to interpret nine different sentences. These sentences differed on two dimensions…syntactic complexity and number of propositions. Subjects were tested on this task with no concurrent task (alone) and while concurrently remembering a digit load that was one less than their span or equivalent to their span. Neither group of subjects showed an effect of syntactic complexity, but DAT patients did show an effect of the number of propositions in a sentence. For all subjects, comprehension of sentences with more propositions was more greatly affected by larger digit loads, but comprehension of more complex syntactic structures was not. The performance of DAT patients was more affected than that of the control subjects on the digit task, but they were not disproportionately impaired on the sentence types which were more complex or had more propositions compared to normals. The results are discussed in relationship to the hypothesis that there is a sentence comprehension impairment in DAT that is related to the processing resource requirements of different aspects of the sentence comprehension process.
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