Event Title

The Effect Of A Second Language On First Language Pronoun Interpretation After A Study-Abroad

Location

SU 003

Start Date

19-4-2019 10:40 AM

Department

Linguistics

Session

Session 3

Description

Language transfer has mainly been looked at as a first language influencing a second language, but native language competence was thought to be stable. However, some studies have found evidence for transfer from a second language (L2) to a first language (L1) in the last two decades (e.g. Cook (Ed.) 2003, Effects of the Second Language on the First; Gürel & Yilmaz 2011, in Language, Interaction and Acquisition 2(2), 221-250). This current paper focuses on this latter kind of transfer which is sometimes also called bi-directional transfer. The study asks the following question: Does grammatical gender in L2 German have an influence on pronoun reference in L1 English after a study-abroad in a German-speaking country? The participants in this study are U.S. high school exchange students who, upon their return from their year abroad, were sent a questionnaire asking for pronoun reference judgements in their native language. The two languages involved here differ in their gender systems. In German, for example, das Mädchen (the girl) is neuter and can therefore be referred to with the neuter pronoun es (it), whereas in English the pronoun used would be the feminine she. Inanimate objects in English are always referred to with the neuter pronoun it, while in German tables, for instance, are masculine (der Tisch) and lamps are feminine (die Lampe). The results of the exchange students were compared to both German and English native speaker judgements of the same test sentences, using different statistical methods of analysis, also taking into account the participants’ language backgrounds. The data indicates that the exchange students, after being exposed to German and its grammatical gender for a relatively long period of time, show tendencies towards interpreting pronouns like German native speakers in some of the sentences. This demonstrates that a relatively hard to acquire area of grammar in an L2, such as grammatical gender systems, can have an influence on someone’s L1 judgements. This study, therefore, helps gaining better understanding in how the languages in a multilingual’s mind interact, and provides further evidence for bi-directional transfer (e.g. Pavlenko 2000, in Issues in Applied Linguistics 11(2), 175-205).

Comments

Richard Hallett is the faculty sponsor for this project.

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Apr 19th, 10:40 AM

The Effect Of A Second Language On First Language Pronoun Interpretation After A Study-Abroad

SU 003

Language transfer has mainly been looked at as a first language influencing a second language, but native language competence was thought to be stable. However, some studies have found evidence for transfer from a second language (L2) to a first language (L1) in the last two decades (e.g. Cook (Ed.) 2003, Effects of the Second Language on the First; Gürel & Yilmaz 2011, in Language, Interaction and Acquisition 2(2), 221-250). This current paper focuses on this latter kind of transfer which is sometimes also called bi-directional transfer. The study asks the following question: Does grammatical gender in L2 German have an influence on pronoun reference in L1 English after a study-abroad in a German-speaking country? The participants in this study are U.S. high school exchange students who, upon their return from their year abroad, were sent a questionnaire asking for pronoun reference judgements in their native language. The two languages involved here differ in their gender systems. In German, for example, das Mädchen (the girl) is neuter and can therefore be referred to with the neuter pronoun es (it), whereas in English the pronoun used would be the feminine she. Inanimate objects in English are always referred to with the neuter pronoun it, while in German tables, for instance, are masculine (der Tisch) and lamps are feminine (die Lampe). The results of the exchange students were compared to both German and English native speaker judgements of the same test sentences, using different statistical methods of analysis, also taking into account the participants’ language backgrounds. The data indicates that the exchange students, after being exposed to German and its grammatical gender for a relatively long period of time, show tendencies towards interpreting pronouns like German native speakers in some of the sentences. This demonstrates that a relatively hard to acquire area of grammar in an L2, such as grammatical gender systems, can have an influence on someone’s L1 judgements. This study, therefore, helps gaining better understanding in how the languages in a multilingual’s mind interact, and provides further evidence for bi-directional transfer (e.g. Pavlenko 2000, in Issues in Applied Linguistics 11(2), 175-205).