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Evolutionary Syntax

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Academic Paper

Title: Performance Accuracy Affected by Control Over Bilingual Language Production: A study of balanced L2 users
Author: Julia Festman
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Universität Potsdam
Author: Antoni Rodriguez-Fornells
Institution: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Author: Thomas F. Münte
Institution: Universität Magdeburg
Linguistic Field: Psycholinguistics
Abstract: Recent research suggests that bilinguals cope with non-target language interference by recruiting "executive function" brain areas. However, it remains unclear whether all bilinguals are able to prevent interference to the same extend. In this project, 30 bilingual speakers of Russian and German were tested in two language tasks: (1) In a picture-naming task, black-on-white line drawings of objects had to be named in a cued target language (Russian or German), which was changed on a regular schedule. (2) In a verbal fluency task, subjects were asked to produce unique words in one language belonging to a semantic category (e.g., animals, or clothing), or starting with a certain letter (e.g., S-). Participants were explicitly instructed to use only the target language, which was predefined by the experimenter. Occurrences of interference, defined as the involuntary use of the nontarget language during target language production, were considered as inaccurate performance due to failures of control with regard to the language, whereas substitution errors reflected inaccurate performance with regard to the content. In every task, between-subject differences were observed, which could be attributed to the/L/construct of language proficiency only partially. Therefore, we suggest a new notion of "speaker-type", which holds that speakers tend to be either more controlled in their language output, trying to use one language at the time, or less controlled, thus using more frequently both languages, i.e., producing more switches between the languages. Our results can only be explained by an underlying mechanism, due to which participants in the non-switcher group showed a processing advantage over the switcher group in particular for avoidance of errors of interference.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
Publication Info: Van Daele, S., Housen, A., Kuiken, F., Pierrard, M., & Vedder, I. (eds), Complexity, Accuracy and Fluency in Second Language Use, Learning & Teaching, Proceedings of the CAF-Symposium, 29-30 March 2007, Brussels, Belgium, 65-76.

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