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Academic Paper

Title: Reading authentic texts: What counts as cognate?
Author: Laura Winther Balling
Institution: Copenhagen Business School
Linguistic Field: Cognitive Science
Subject Language: Danish
Abstract: Most research on cognates has focused on words presented in isolation that are easily defined as cognate between L1 and L2. In contrast, this study investigates what counts as cognate in authentic texts and how such cognates are read. Participants with L1 Danish read news articles in their highly proficient L2, English, while their eye-movements were monitored. The experiment shows a cognate advantage for morphologically simple words, but only when cognateness is defined relative to translation equivalents that are appropriate in the context. For morphologically complex words, a cognate disadvantage is observed which may be due to problems of integrating cognate with non-cognate morphemes. The results show that fast non-selective access to the bilingual lexicon is conditioned by the communicative context. Importantly, a range of variables are statistically controlled in the regression analyses, including word predictability indexed by the conditional probability of each word.


This article appears IN Bilingualism: Language and Cognition Vol. 16, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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