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ISB5- March 20-23, 20051 The comprehension of sentences in Spanish-English bilinguals Paola E. Dussias Penn State University 4 th International.

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Presentation on theme: "ISB5- March 20-23, 20051 The comprehension of sentences in Spanish-English bilinguals Paola E. Dussias Penn State University 4 th International."— Presentation transcript:

1 ISB5- March 20-23, The comprehension of sentences in Spanish-English bilinguals Paola E. Dussias Penn State University 4 th International Symposium on Bilingualism Arizona State University April 30 th –May 03 rd

2 ISB5- March 20-23, Who was ill? The police arrested the brother of the baby-sitter who was ill. 4 th International Symposium on Bilingualism Arizona State University April 30 th –May 03 rd

3 ISB5- March 20-23,  In English  In Spanish 4 th International Symposium on Bilingualism Arizona State University April 30 th –May 03 rd baby sitterwho was ill brother who was ill LOW ATTACHMENT HIGH ATTACHMENT The police arrested the brother of the baby-sitter who was ill.

4 ISB5- March 20-23, What about Spanish-English bilinguals? How do bilinguals resolve the competition that is created between parsing preferences in the L1 and in the L2? 4 th International Symposium on Bilingualism Arizona State University April 30 th –May 03 rd Use the correct strategy in each context Use high attachment for both languages Use low attachment for both languages

5 ISB5- March 20-23, Research Question Prior research suggest that, provided sufficient proficiency, second language syntactic processing obeys the same principles as native language processing (Frenck-Mestre; 1997, 2002; Frenck- Mestre & Pynte, 1997; Hoover & Dwivedi, 1998; Juffs & Harrington, 1996) How is syntactic processing affected by exposure to the second language? 4 th International Symposium on Bilingualism Arizona State University April 30 th –May 03 rd

6 ISB5- March 20-23, Participants 1.Twenty L1 Spanish-L2 English participants.  Learned English during adulthood.  Lived in an L2 environment for an average of 7 years.  88% of the subjects  reading and listening in both languages equally high.  75% of the subjects  speaking abilities in both languages equally high.  Used Spanish and English in their daily lives and in a variety of contexts; both formal and informal. 2. Thirty-six monolingual Spanish speakers. 4 th International Symposium on Bilingualism Arizona State University April 30 th –May 03 rd Study 1– Relative clause ambiguity resolution

7 ISB5- March 20-23, Materials 4 th International Symposium on Bilingualism Arizona State University April 30 th –May 03 rd  1 (high attachment) La policía arrestó al hermano de la mujer que estaba enfermo desde hacía tiempo. [The police arrested the brother of the woman who had been ill (masc.) for a while].  2 (low attachment) La policía arrestó a la hermana del hombre que estaba enfermo desde hacía tiempo. [The police arrested the sister of the man who had been ill for a while]. the brother ill (masc) the manill (masc)

8 ISB5- March 20-23, Procedure 4 th International Symposium on Bilingualism Arizona State University April 30 th –May 03 rd  Eyelink II eyetracker interfaced with an IBM compatible computer.  Materials were displayed on a color monitor.  All sentences were displayed in a single line of text.  Sentences were followed by a comprehension questions to ensure that participants were executing the task appropriately.

9 ISB5- March 20-23, Analysis  Gaze duration: the sum of all fixations on the disambiguating region (e.g., the adjective)  Total time: The sum of gaze duration + regressions on the critical region. 4 th International Symposium on Bilingualism Arizona State University April 30 th –May 03 rd

10 ISB5- March 20-23, Results (total reading times) 4 th International Symposium on Bilingualism Arizona State University April 30 th –May 03 rd * *

11 ISB5- March 20-23, Why the low-attachment preference? Language Exposure account: Exposure to a preponderance of English constructions resolved in favor of low attachment may have rendered this interpretation more available, ultimately resulting in the preference for low attachment observed in these results. 4 th International Symposium on Bilingualism Arizona State University April 30 th –May 03 rd

12 ISB5- March 20-23, A preliminary test of this hypothesis… Test participants with fewer years of immersion in an English environment. 4 th International Symposium on Bilingualism Arizona State University April 30 th –May 03 rd

13 ISB5- March 20-23, Participant profile: Twenty-eight L1 Spanish-L2 English participants.  Learned English during adulthood.  Lived in an L2 environment for an average of 8.5 months.  Used Spanish and English in their daily lives and in a variety of context, both formal and informal. 4 th International Symposium on Bilingualism Arizona State University April 30 th –May 03 rd

14 ISB5- March 20-23, Bilinguals—Limited exposure (total reading times) * *

15 ISB5- March 20-23, Bilinguals—Limited exposure (total reading times) * *

16 ISB5- March 20-23, Summary of findings from Study 1 4 th International Symposium on Bilingualism Arizona State University April 30 th –May 03 rd Spanish monolingual speakers and Spanish-English bilinguals with limited exposure in the L2 environment adopt a high attachment strategy Spanish-English bilinguals with extensive exposure to the L2 adopt a low-attachment strategy These findings highlight the role of L2 exposure in parsing.

17 ISB5- March 20-23, Study 2– The role of word order One grammatical property that has been found to affect sentence comprehension is word order. The parser seems to find it easier to comprehend sentences in which the subject (S) precedes the object (O) than with the reverse O-S order (Bates, MacWhinney, McNew, Devescovi, & Smith, 1982; MacWhinney, Bates, & Kliegl, 1984; MacWhinney & Bates, 1989; Weyerts, Penke, Münte, Heinze, & Clahsen, 2002).

18 ISB5- March 20-23, Given that word-order preferences play an important role in the on-line comprehension and that languages vary cross-linguistically with respect to word order, it is important to investigate the effect that word order has on second language comprehension as a way to account for differences in parsing preferences between monolingual and non-native speakers of the target language.

19 ISB5- March 20-23, The construction under investigation Contestó el chico que quería estudiar derecho [Verb Subject That-clause] A. that-clause  complement of verb The boy answered that he wanted to study law B. that-clause  relative clause The boy that wanted to study law answered

20 ISB5- March 20-23, Preferred interpretation of the ambiguity Monolingual Spanish speakers  prefer the relative clause reading Contestó el chico que quería estudiar derecho The boy that wanted to study law answered

21 ISB5- March 20-23, Method Participants 54 Monolingual Spanish speakers 15 proficient English-Spanish bilinguals

22 ISB5- March 20-23, Materials Experimental stimulus Contestó el chico [que quería estudiar derecho] ambiguous region [que sabía la respuesta] disambiguating region Control El chico que quería estudiar derecho contestó que sabía la respuesta

23 ISB5- March 20-23, Procedure Reading moving window Contestó _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

24 ISB5- March 20-23, Analysis Reading times of que + the verb following it. Contestó el chico [que quería estudiar derecho] ambiguous region [que sabía la respuesta] disambiguating region El chico que quería estudiar derecho contestó que sabía la respuesta

25 ISB5- March 20-23, Results *

26 ISB5- March 20-23, Overall summary of findings Both experiments show that bilinguals sometimes do not parse L2 input in a manner similar to that of speakers of the target language. Variables such as L2 proficiency, exposure to the L2 environment and syntactic characteristics specific to the second language affect syntactic processing in the two languages of the bilingual.

27 ISB5- March 20-23, Acknowledgements Tracy Cramer Chip Gerfen Judy Kroll Maya Misra Teresa Bajo Manuel Carreiras & Charles Clifton Jr. Language Science Research Group at Penn State


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