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How Traditions Live and Die

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The Acquisition of Heritage Languages

By Silvina Montrul

"This work centres on the grammatical development of the heritage language and the language learning trajectory of heritage speakers, synthesizing recent experimental research."


Academic Paper


Title: Processing of contrastiveness by heritage Russian bilinguals
Author: Irina A. Sekerina
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: City University of New York
Author: John C Trueswell
Email: click here TO access email
Homepage: http://www.psych.upenn.edu/~trueswel/
Institution: University of Pennsylvania
Linguistic Field: Applied Linguistics; Language Acquisition; Psycholinguistics
Subject Language: English
Russian
Abstract: Two eye-tracking experiments in the Visual World paradigm compared how monolingual Russian (Experiment 1) and heritage Russian–English bilingual (Experiment 2) listeners process contrastiveness online in Russian. Materials were color adjective–noun phrases embedded into the split-constituent construction Krasnuju položite zvezdočku . . . “Red put star . . .” whose inherent contrastiveness results from integration of multiple sources of information, i.e., word order, prosody and visual context. The results showed that while monolinguals rapidly used word order and visual context (but not contrastive prosody) to compute the contrast set even before the noun appeared in speech, heritage Russian bilinguals were very slow and took notice of multiple sources of information only when the lexical identity of the noun made the task superfluous. These results are similar to slowed processing reported in the literature for L2 learners. It is hypothesized that this slowdown in HL processing is due to cascading effects of covert competition between the two languages that starts at the level of spoken word recognition and culminates at the interfaces and, with time, it may become a major contributing force to heritage language attrition.

CUP AT LINGUIST

This article appears IN Bilingualism: Language and Cognition Vol. 14, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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