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Cross-Language Influences in the Processing of Multiword Expressions: From a First Language to Second and Back

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posted on 06.07.2021, 21:38 by Lingli Du, Irina ElgortIrina Elgort, Anna SiyanovaAnna Siyanova
The present study investigated cross-language influences in the processing of binomial expressions (knife and fork), from a first language (L1) to a second language (L2) and from L2 to L1. Two groups of unbalanced bilinguals (Chinese/L1-English/L2 and English/L1-Chinese/L2) and a control group of English monolinguals performed a visual lexical decision task that incorporated unmasked priming. To assess cross-language influences, we used three types of expressions: congruent binomials (English binomials that have translation equivalents in Chinese), English-only binomials, and Chinese-only binomials translated into English. Lexical decision latencies to the last word (fork) in a binomial (knife and fork) were compared with response latencies to the same word in a matched control phrase (spoon and fork). We found that (1) Chinese-English bilinguals showed a significant priming effect for congruent binomials but no facilitation for English-only binomials, (2) English–Chinese bilinguals showed a trend toward priming for congruent binomials, which did not reach statistical significance, and no priming for English-only binomials, (3) English monolinguals showed comparable priming for congruent and English-only binomials. With respect to the Chinese-only binomials, none of the three participant groups showed priming for translated Chinese-only binomials over controls. These findings suggest that L1 influences the processing of L2 binomials, and that there may be some cross-linguistic influence in the opposite direction, i.e., from L2 to L1, although to a lesser extent.


Preferred citation

Du, L., Elgort, I. & Siyanova-Chanturia, A. (2021). Cross-Language Influences in the Processing of Multiword Expressions: From a First Language to Second and Back. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 666520-. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.666520

Journal title

Frontiers in Psychology



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Frontiers Media SA

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Published online