Variable Lexicalization of Dynamic Events in Language Production: A Comparison of Monolingual and Bilingual Speakers of French and English

  • Author / Creator
    Peters, Julia
  • This study explores how bilingualism impacts lexical selection within spontaneous spoken language production. The particular analysis focuses on the choice between synonymous verbs in English. The main hypothesis predicts that, as a result of crosslinguistic influence, bilingual speakers of French and English will opt for the English synonym which has structural correspondence to the French translation equivalent more often than monolingual speakers, who do not experience an influence from French. Structural correspondence exists in two distinct ways: in the form of cognates (e.g., applaudir/applaud vs. clap) and in terms of the number of free morphemes used to convey the same semantic information (e.g., lever/raise vs. put up).

    The language production data was generated by participants viewing video scenes and describing the action as it progressed. The frequency with which the different verbs were used was then compared across the different participant groups: monolingual English speakers and bilingual speakers of both French and English. The bilingual group was also subdivided based on language dominance. A range of different analyses were conducted.

    A framework is established for interpreting the data. Bilingualism can have one of three main effects on the speech of bilinguals relative to monolinguals: (a) an expanding effect, in which bilinguals use a wider range of lexical forms than monolinguals, (b) a limiting effect, in which bilinguals use a more limited range of lexical items than bilinguals, and (c) a modifying effect, in which the range of lexical items is basically the same between bilinguals and monolinguals but varies in terms of the frequency with which those lexical forms are used (a type of CLI labeled ‘covert’). These effects interact with certain speaker variables such as which language is the speaker’s dominant language.

    The stage(s) within the language production process at which CLI impacts ultimate lexicalization is also explored. Current models of language production which focus on lexical selection are discussed. The results of this study are most compatible with specific notions such as lexical access being target-language non-specific (see Costa, 2004, for example) and the Weaker Links Hypothesis (e.g., Gollan and Silverberg, 2001; Gollan, Montoya, & Werner, 2002).

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2010
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Nadasdi, Terry (Linguistics)
    • Rice, Sally (Linguistics)
    • Watt, David (Education)
    • Dailey-O'Cain, Jennifer (Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
    • Nicoladis, Elena (Psychology)