CLS Speaker Series - Courtney Johnson Fowler (Penn State University) Exploring cross-language grammatical gender interaction in German-Italian bilinguals
Apr 15, 2016
from 09:00 AM to 10:30 AM
|Where||127 Moore Building|
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Psycholinguistic research has shown that even when bilinguals are processing in only one language, both of their languages remain activated (e.g., Costa et al., 2000). This co-activation leads to cross-language interaction and in cases where both of a bilingual’s languages contain grammatical gender, the two gender systems have been shown to interact (e.g., Paolieri et al., 2010). Our understanding of this so-called ‘gender-congruency effect’ is mainly limited to the influence of the L1 on the L2 (but see Morales et al., 2011) and to late L2 speakers living in either the L2 (e.g., Bordag & Pechmann, 2007) or the L1 (e.g., Salamoura & Williams, 2007) environment. The current study seeks to expand our understanding of how and when gender systems interact in bilinguals by comparing two groups of L1 German-L2 Italian speakers from South Tyrol, one living in bilingual South Tyrol and the other living in German-speaking Austria. Both groups completed a series of picture naming tasks in both their L1 German and L2 Italian so that interaction can be measured bidirectionally. In Experiment 1 bilinguals named images in isolation, whereas in Experiment 2 images were embedded in sentences to see whether the gender-congruency effect is modulated by sentence context as is the case with the cognate effect (e.g., Schwartz & Kroll, 2006; Starreveld et al., 2013). Results show that the gender systems of these South Tyrolean bilinguals interact only in L2 naming, both when naming in isolation and in sentence context, and that this interaction is present regardless of current language environment.