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OS_40. Bi/Multi-lingualism

Sunday, October 02nd,   2011 [17:00 - 18:00]


OS_40.1 - Traces of Lost Language: Using the relearning procedure to explore L1 that seemed to have lost

Kreiner, H. & Maimon, N. .

Linguistic Cognition Lab, Ruppin Academic Center, Emeq-Hefer, Israel

While many studies of bilingualism examine language attrition, few investigate the memory of L1 that hasn't been used for many years. The present study used Ebbinghaus' relearning procedure to explore traces of L1 in individuals who claim to have no conscious memory of their L1. Ebbinghaus demonstrated that relearning is faster than new learning and argued that this effect reflects subtle memory traces that cannot be measured in direct memory tests. In Experiment 1 dominantly Hebrew speakers, who acquired Russian as L1 and lost it, learned 30 word-pairs composed of a Russian word and its translation to Hebrew. Their learning-curves were compared to these of a control group who never learned Russian. In Experiment 2 we used similar procedure to compare 3 groups: French L1, French L2 and a control group. The learning-curves from both experiments show slow learning for the control group, and much faster learning for the Russian/French L1 group. Surprisingly the learning-curves from French L2 were similar to those of the L1 group. The findings clearly demonstrate that the relearning procedure can reveal unconscious traces of a lost language. The implications of these findings to our understanding of language attrition and language learning will be discussed.

OS_40.2 - Increased inhibitory capacity helps bilinguals resolve within- and between language competition during natural language production

Pivneva, I. , Delpero, E. & Titone, D.

McGill University

We investigated whether individual differences in inhibitory capacity modulate within- and between-language competition during bilingual speech production. 24 French-English bilinguals produced short sentences in response to a picture array ("The hose and the stove are above the bridge"). Filler arrays varied the syntactic forms produced ("The tape is above the rug and the car"), and parafoveal preview of upcoming pictures was blocked using gaze- contingent methods. Our dependent measure was the time participants fixated the second picture of each array before naming it (gaze- speech latency). Participants performed an L1-only block, L2-only block, and an L1-L2 mixed block. Participants also completed an executive function and language proficiency battery. As expected, gaze-speech latencies were shorter for L1 vs. L2 speech production, and for pictures with only one plausible name vs. multiple plausible names. More interestingly, increased inhibitory capacity was associated with shorter gaze-speech latencies in the L2-only block for pictures that had more than one plausible name, and with a reduced L2 production cost for all pictures in the more demanding L1-L2 mixed block. Thus, increased inhibitory capacity helps bilinguals resolve within- and between-language competition during natural language production over and above the effects of L2 proficiency.

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