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The Acquisition of Heritage Languages

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Academic Paper


Title: Reading in Two Writing Systems: Accommodation and assimilation of the brain's reading network
Author: Charles A Perfetti
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Author: Ying Liu
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Author: Julie Fiez
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Author: Jessica Nelson
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Author: Donald J. Bolger
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Author: Li-Hai Tan
Institution: University of Hong Kong
Linguistic Field: Cognitive Science; Neurolinguistics
Subject Language: Chinese, Mandarin
English
Abstract: Bilingual reading can require more than knowing two languages. Learners must acquire also the writing conventions of their second language, which can differ in its deep mapping principles (writing system) and its visual configurations (script). We review ERP (event-related potential) and fMRI studies of both Chinese–English bilingualism and Chinese second language learning that bear on the system accommodation hypothesis: the neural networks acquired for one system must be modified to accommodate the demands of a new system. ERP bilingual studies demonstrate temporal indicators of the brain's experience with L1 and L2 and with the frequency of encounters of words in L2. ERP learning studies show that early visual processing differences between L1 and L2 diminish during a second term of study. fMRI studies of learning converge in finding that learners recruit bilateral occipital-temporal and also middle frontal areas when reading Chinese, similar to the pattern of native speakers and different from alphabetic reading. The evidence suggests an asymmetry: alphabetic readers have a neural network that accommodates the demands of Chinese by recruiting neural structures less needed for alphabetic reading. Chinese readers have a neural network that partly assimilates English into the Chinese system, especially in the visual stages of word identification.

CUP AT LINGUIST

This article appears IN Bilingualism: Language and Cognition Vol. 10, Issue 2, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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