[PS-2.18] Cross-linguistic transfer of basic word order: A computational modeling study

Matusevych, Y. , Alishahi, A. & Backus, A.

Tilburg University

It is generally agreed that linguistic systems interact in the bilingual mind, and that features of one language may transfer to the other language. Yet, it is unclear in which cases the basic word order (SVO, VS, etc.) is transferred from L1 to L2, and whether the degree of similarity between L1 and L2 affects the amount of such transfer. We investigate the transfer of basic word order from a computational perspective, using an existing model of learning argument structure constructions from bilingual input. For this study, the model has been upgraded to ensure its ability to process languages with free word order, and a novel sentence production task has been implemented. We start by demonstrating that the model replicates some data from human subject research, related to the production of SVO and VS sentences by Russian native speakers and English learners of Russian. Next, the same task is used to simulate sentence production in L2 learners with different language backgrounds (French, German, English, and Russian). Finally, we provide a systematic analysis of produced patterns, demonstrating the effects of cross-linguistic transfer and language similarity in this task.