How subject animacy constrains motion event descriptions: Evidence from sequential and simultaneous bilinguals in French and English
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Berthaud, Sarah, & Antonijević, Stanislava. (2017). How subject animacy constrains motion event descriptions: Evidence from sequential and simultaneous bilinguals in French and English. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism doi: 10.1075/lab.16023.ber
Research has indicated that during sentence processing, French native speakers predominantly rely upon lexico-semantic cues (i.e., animacy) while native speakers of English rely upon syntactic cues (i.e., word order). The present study examined sentence production in L1 French L2 English and L1 English L2 French, all sequential bilinguals. Participants depicted animate and inanimate entities as sentence subjects while describing motion events represented by static pictures. Sentence production was compared against that of simultaneous bilinguals. To test gradual change in animacy cue weighting in second-language (L2) sequential bilinguals with different proficiency levels were included. The results indicated an overall preference for the use of animate subjects for both languages at all proficiency levels. The effect of animacy was stronger for English L2 than French L2 while it did not differ between languages in simultaneous bilinguals. Evidence for potential change in the animacy-cue weighting was only observed for English L2.