"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more
To find some answers Tim Machan explores the language's present and past, and looks ahead to its futures among the one and a half billion people who speak it. His search is fascinating and important, for definitions of English have influenced education and law in many countries and helped shape the identities of those who live in them.
This volume provides a new perspective on the evolution of the special language of medicine, based on the electronic corpus of Early Modern English Medical Texts, containing over two million words of medical writing from 1500 to 1700.
Nicol, Janet L., ed. (2001) One Mind, Two Languages: Bilingual Language Processing. Blackwell Publishers, Explaining Linguistics Series.
Ming-Wei Lee, University of Cambridge
This book is intended as a resource for anyone interested in state-of-the-art research on language processing in the bilingual and second language (L2) user. It contains nine chapters, five of which (Chapters 2, 4, 6, 7 and 9) are written or co-written by faculty members of the Second Language Acquisition and Teaching Program at the University of Arizona. All but one of the contributors are based in the US. (The book also has a Preface, a bibliography of all the works cited in the book and a combined author and subject index.)
In Chapter 1 ('The bilingual's language modes'), Grosjean examines the notion of �language mode�, which is defined as �the state of activation of the bilingual�s languages and language processing mechanisms at a given point in time� (p.3). He discusses the factors that influence a bilingual�s position on the language mode continuum, and surveys the literature documenting the effects that language mode has on language production, perception, acquisition and pathology in bilinguals. He calls for more systematic study of the phenomenon (e.g., how language mode can be assessed and modelled), and stresses the importance of taking steps to control language mode as an extraneous variable in bilingualism research where language mode is not the focus of interest.
Chapter 2 ('The voicing contrast in English and Spanish: The relationship between perception and production') deals with speech perception and production in bilinguals, exploiting the different phonetic realisations of the same phonological voicing contrast for word-initial stop consonants in English and Spanish. Zampini and Green examine to what extent early Spanish-English bilinguals and late English- speaking learners of Spanish resemble the respective monolinguals of the two languages in their production of voiced and voiceless stop consonants in English and Spanish, and to what extent they resemble English monolinguals and late Spanish-speaking learners of English in the use of acoustic cues in perceiving the same sounds. They argue that the acoustic dimensions of voice onset time and voiceless closure interval should be considered separately and that language experience, language mode and sentence context all have a role to play in bilinguals� speech perception and production.
In Chapter 3 ('The development of conceptual representation for words in a second language'), Kroll and Tokowicz examine the development of the links between concepts and L2 words in the bilingual lexicon, focusing on the issue of whether non-conceptually- mediated links between L1 and L2 lexical representations exist (at different stages of L2 development). They first review a large number of experimental findings on word recognition, production and translation and discuss their implications for modelling the functional architecture of the bilingual lexicon. They then consider the question of how bilinguals modulate and control the relative activation of their two languages, and argue that future research should try to bring the architecture and control questions together.
In Chapter 4 ('The nature of the bilingual lexicon: Experiments with the masked priming paradigm'), Forster and Jiang put forward the novel and fairly radical view that the L1 and L2 lexicons (at least in late L2 learners) are qualitatively different in that the L1 lexicon is represented in the language module and the L2 lexicon is some kind of episodic memory. This view, they argue, is compatible with recent brain imaging evidence showing distinct cortical areas for L1 and L2, and it explains why the lexical decision task shows a masked translation priming effect only from L1 to L2 but not from L2 to L1, and why the episodic recognition task, unlike the lexical decision task, shows a masked translation priming effect from L2 to L1.
Chapter 5 ('Explaining aspects of code-switching and their implications') eschews the methodology of experimental psycholinguistics and seeks to provide a processing-based account of a number of observations that can be made regarding various corpora of naturally occurring code-switching (CS) data. The observations under discussion are the frequent doubling of inflectional morphemes (in particular, plural morphemes) in, for example, Finnish-English CS, the high number of English Inflectional Phrase islands in Arabic-English CS, the dearth of English Noun Phrase islands (as opposed to the frequent occurrence of English nouns with Spanish determiners) in Spanish- English CS, and the convergence phenomenon in some language contact settings. Myers-Scotton and Jake explain these data by augmenting the Matrix Language Frame model with two sub-models, the 4-M model (which classifies morphemes into content morphemes, early system morphemes and two classes of late system morphemes) and the Abstract Level model (which conceptualises lemmas as consisting of three levels of abstract lexical structure, namely, lexical-conceptual structure, predicate-argument structure and morphological realisation patterns). It is argued that the two sub-models are not only applicable to the analysis of CS, but can also provide insights into other types of language contact phenomena and explain aspects of speech error, aphasia and second language acquisition data.
Chapter 6 ('Production of verb agreement in monolingual, bilingual and second-language speakers') addresses the question of whether conceptual/semantic information is available to the mental process which implements subject-verb number agreement during sentence production. Previous research using an error elicitation methodology on monolinguals has found conceptual effects on the occurrence of subject-verb number agreement errors in Spanish, but not in English. Nicol, Teller and Greth report new data on L2 Spanish from late English-speaking learners of Spanish, and on English from early Spanish-English bilinguals. They explain their new data as well as the documented monolingual data in terms of the participants' experience (or the lack thereof) with the grammatical properties of pro-drop, subject-verb inversion, and subject-adjectival predicate agreement in the relevant language(s).
Chapter 7 ('A theory of syntactic interference in the bilingual') explores the minimalist approach to the mapping between conceptual structures and syntactic representations. Sanz and Bever propose a syntactic functional projection 'Event Phrase' in which the semantic features [�eventive], [�telic] and [�permanent state] are encoded. They further argue that these features vary in semantic interpretability across languages; in particular, these features are semantically uninterpreted (i.e., have overt syntactic consequences) in Spanish, but semantically interpreted in English. Evidence from L1 English and L1 Spanish sentence processing experiments testing for antecedent priming is cited in support of this analysis. The question is then posed as to whether L2 learners can ever successfully acquire a semantic feature whose interpretive level in L2 differs from that in their L1. The authors hint at a negative answer, although they have not carried out any research on learners.
Chapter 8 ('Sentence parsing in fluent Spanish-English bilinguals') is concerned with bilinguals' syntactic ambiguity resolution strategies. The construction where a complex noun phrase (NP) is followed by a relative clause (RC) (i.e., NP1 Preposition NP2 RC) contains a syntactic ambiguity in that the RC may attach to (i.e., modify) either NP in the complex NP. Previous work has established cross-linguistic differences in how this ambiguity is resolved: English speakers prefer NP2 attachment whereas Spanish speakers prefer NP1 attachment. Dussias presents questionnaire data for English and Spanish and reading time data for Spanish from early English-Spanish bilinguals, late English-speaking learners of Spanish and late Spanish- speaking learners of English. Her data suggest that bilinguals do not have two sets of language-specific ambiguity resolution strategies and that their attachment preference is determined by previous experience with the construction in both languages.
Chapter 9 ('Print as a primary source of English for deaf learners') describes an educational programme which is aimed at teaching reading and English (as an L2) to deaf children who have American Sign Language (ASL) as their L1. Unlike their hearing counterparts, deaf children have to learn to read in English without any prior knowledge of the spoken form of the language. Supalla, Wix and McKee argue that, to overcome this obstacle, deaf children have to be taught to link English with ASL. The programme prepares deaf learners' transition to English texts by introducing iconic signed illustrations of ASL signs, ASL graphemes and the English alphabet, overtly comparing words written in ASL graphemes and English graphemes, and providing the experience of reading hybrid texts with English content words and ASL grammatical markers and word order. Unfortunately, the authors are not yet in a position to tell us about the effectiveness of the programme.
Readers familiar with the literature on the psycholinguistic aspect of bilingualism would probably agree that this book is comparable to de Groot and Kroll (1997), Harris (1992), Schreuder and Weltens (1993) and Vaid (1986). Most chapters fulfil the promise of providing good summaries of relevant past work and the authors� recent research. They also make helpful suggestions as to what can be done next in the respective areas. I have no doubt that this book will quickly find its way onto the reading lists of many psycholinguistics and bilingualism courses at postgraduate level.
De Groot, A.M.B., & Kroll, J.F. (1997). Tutorials in bilingualism: Psycholinguistic perspectives. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Harris, R.J. (1992). Cognitive processing in bilinguals. Amsterdam: North-Holland.
Schreuder, R., & Weltens, B. (1993). The bilingual lexicon. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Vaid, J. (1986). Language processing in bilinguals: Psycholinguistic and neuropsychological perspectives. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Ming-Wei Lee works in the Research Centre for English and Applied Linguistics at the University of Cambridge. He wrote his PhD thesis on bilingual lexical processing. His current research focuses on grammatical processes in both native and non-native language processing.