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Academic Paper

Title: Lexical Competition in Nonnative Speech Comprehension
Paper URL:
Author: Ian FitzPatrick
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf
Linguistic Field: Cognitive Science
Subject Language: Dutch
Abstract: Electrophysiological studies consistently find N400 effects of semantic incongruity in non-native (L2) language comprehension. These N400 effects are often delayed compared to native (L1) comprehension, suggesting that semantic integration in one's second language occurs later than in one's first language. In this study we investigated whether such a delay could be attributed to: (1) intralingual lexical competition, and/or (2) interlingual lexical competition. We recorded EEG from Dutch-English bilinguals who listened to English (L2) sentences in which the sentence-final word was: a) semantically fitting, b) semantically incongruent, or semantically incongruent, but initially congruent due to sharing initial phonemes with c) the most probable sentence completion within the L2 or d) the L1 translation equivalent of the most probable sentence completion. We found an N400 effect in each of the semantically incongruent conditions. This N400 effect was significantly delayed to L2 words, but not to L1 translation equivalents, that were initially congruent with the sentence context. Taken together these findings firstly demonstrate that semantic integration in non-native listening can start on the basis of word initial phonemes (i.e., before a single lexical candidate could have been selected on the basis of the input), and secondly suggest that spuriously elicited L1 lexical candidates are not available for semantic integration in L2 speech comprehension.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
Publication Info: Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 22 (6), p.1165 -1178

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