ARE BILINGUALS LIKE TWO
MONOLINGUALS IN ONE PERSON?
EVIDENCE FROM RESEARCH
IN SENTENCE PROCESSING
Eva M. Fernández
[email protected]
Queens College & Graduate Center ▪ CUNY
CUNY Academy ▪ Junior Faculty Series
November 25 ▪ Rosenthal Library, Room 230 ▪ Queens College
COLLABORATION & SUPPORT
Dianne Bradley & Janet Fodor
CUNY Graduate Center
Elaine Klein
Queens College & Graduate Center, CUNY
Javier Sainz & Lola Oria-Merino
Universidad Complutense de Madrid
RISLUS: Research Institute for the Study of
Language in an Urban Society
CUNY Graduate Center
BILINGUAL PROCESSING
How do bilinguals process their two
languages?
 using strategies similar to those of monolinguals?
 with similar timing to that of monolinguals?
 with similar accuracy when the task involves it?
 with both written and acoustic stimuli?
¿ Bilingual (Lx, Ly) = Monolingual (Lx) + Monolingual (Ly) ?
A BILINGUAL IS…
a person who can communicate efficiently
in two codes, Lx & Ly
a person who has:
 underlying competence in Lx and Ly
 underlying differentiation of Lx and Ly
Lx


Ly


Who did you say that _ left?
Who did you say _ left?
¿Quién dijiste que _ se marchó?
¿Quién dijiste _ se marchó?
TWO COMPONENTS OR ONE?
TWO GRAMMARS
evidence:
grammaticality
judgments that differ
between Lx & Ly
TWO PROCESSORS
evidence:
processing preferences
that differ
between Lx & Ly
requirement:
requirement:
grammaticality difference
processing difference
rule in Lx 
rule in Ly
strategy in Lx 
strategy in Ly
MONOLINGUAL PERFORMANCE
Mary saw a gift for a boy …
WORDS
Lx
SENTENCES
(parser)
PROPOSITIONS
MONOLINGUAL PERFORMANCE
Mary saw a gift
for a boy …
IF CROSS-LINGUISTIC
DIFFERENCES:
SENTENCES
(parser Lx)
SENTENCES
(parser Ly)
Lx
Ly
María vio un regalo
para un niño …
BILINGUAL PERFORMANCE
Mary saw a gift
for a boy …
TWO PARSERS?
SENTENCES
(parser Lx)
SENTENCES
(parser Ly)
Lx
Ly
María vio un regalo
para un niño …
STRATEGIES DEPEND ON THE LANGUAGE OF THE STIMULUS
BILINGUAL PERFORMANCE
OR ONE?
Mary saw a gift
for a boy …
María vio un regalo
para un niño …
SENTENCES
(parser Lx)
Ly)
Lx
Ly
UNIFORM STRATEGIES, WITH STIMULUS IN EITHER LANGUAGE;
type of strategy depends on individual speaker variables
PARSING PRINCIPLES
MINIMAL ATTACHMENT
(“Build the simplest structure”)
LATE CLOSURE / RECENCY PREFERENCE
(“Attach locally”)
MINIMAL ATTACHMENT
Mary saw
a gift for a boy
boy…
would be a good idea.
saw…
S
NP
VP

Mary
V
saw
S
NP
a gift for a boy
VP
would be a
good idea
building complex structure = processing cost
LATE CLOSURE, in English
Mary saw a gift for a boy
boy…
in a box.
NP
NP
a gift
PP
P
NP
PP
for
a boy
in a box
attaching non-locally = processing cost
LATE CLOSURE in English… y en español
María vio un regalo para un niño
niño…
en una caja.
NP
PP
NP
un regalo
P
NP
PP
para
un niño
en una caja
attaching non-locally = processing cost
LATE CLOSURE, RECENCY PREFERENCE
ATTACH LOCALLY
... a gift to a boy in a box
 in many languages
 with many constructions
EXCEPTION:
N1 of N2 RC
 no interesting predictions for bilinguals:
• bilinguals and monolinguals will all
prefer local attachments
… N1 of N2 RC
the relative clause (RC) attachment ambiguity
structurally ambiguous: RC could attach to N1 or N2
N1
EN:
N2
An assassin shot the maid of the actress …
who was on the balcony.
N1
SP:
N2
Un asesino disparó a la criada de la actriz …
que estaba en el balcón.
QUESTIONNAIRE STUDIES
AMBIGUOUS TARGETS:
An assassin shot the maid of the actress who was on the balcony.
Who was on the balcony?
the maid
high attachment
(N1) preference
the actress
low attachment
(N2) preference
QUESTIONNAIRE STUDIES
AMBIGUOUS TARGETS:
An assassin shot the maid of the actress who was on the balcony.
Who was on the balcony?
the maid
the actress
UNAMBIGUOUS FILLERS:
Mary lent her favorite sweater to her best friend Susanne.
Who borrowed a sweater?
Mary
Susanne
SPANISH [high] ≠ ENGLISH [low]
Un asesino disparó a la criada de la actriz que estaba en el balcón.
An assassin shot the maid of the actress who was on the balcony.
MONOLINGUALS…
HIGH ATTACHMENT
 SPANISH, et al.








Afrikaans, Dutch
Brazilian Portuguese
Bulgarian, Russian
Croatian
French
German
Greek
??
LOW ATTACHMENT
 ENGLISH, et a few al.





Arabic
Norwegian
Romanian
Swedish
??
BILINGUAL SENTENCE PROCESSING
Babble
babble
in either
P N2que...
RC…
Un asesino
disparó
a lalanguage
criada de N1
la actriz
HIGH if
inSDOM
SP
Babble
babble
in either
language
N1 P N2
RC…
An assassin
shot
the maid
of the actress
who…
LOW if
inEDOM
EN
BILINGUALS…
HIGH ATTACHMENT
if Spanish-dominant
in Spanish
LOW ATTACHMENT
if English-dominant
in English
LANGUAGE DEPENDENT PROCESSING:
depending on the language of the stimulus?
LANGUAGE INDEPENDENT PROCESSING:
same strategies, no matter the language;
type of strategy based on individual speaker variables?
CROSS-LINGUISTIC DIFFERENCES:
WHY?
 Ultimate preferences are the result of
initial attachments
 Spanish parser  English parser
 Ultimate preferences are the result of
post-syntactic processing
 Spanish parser = English parser
 departure from (early) low attachment due to semantics
(meaning), pragmatics (use), prosody (segmentation)…
MONOLINGUAL PERFORMANCE
… la criada de la actriz que …
… the maid of the actress that …
SENTENCES
(universal
(parser
parser)
Lx)
SENTENCES
(universal
(parser
parser)
Ly)
POST-SYNTAX
PROCESSING
(pragmatics,
prosody? Lx)
POST-SYNTAX
PROCESSING
(pragmatics,
prosody? Ly)
the maid (N1) was on the balcony!
the actress (N2) was on the balcony!
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN
 SUBJECTS
 monolingual & bilingual
 MATERIALS
 English & Spanish
 TASKS
 speeded “on-line” task (early processing) &
unspeeded “off-line” task (later processing)
SUBJECTS
Monolingual Speakers
of…
Bilingual Speakers
(from NYC)…
American
English
(USENG)
Castillian
Spanish
(CSPA)
N = 64
N = 64
Dominant in
English (EDOM)
Dominant in
Spanish (SDOM)
N = 40
N = 40
– 0.75
– 1.15
+ 0.72
+ 0.77
Self-Rated Proficiency
difference Eng – Spa,
listening/speaking
reading/writing
MATERIALS
 Matrix with N of/de N in post-verbal position:
The journalist interviewed the coach of the gymnast…
 Disambiguated, self-paced reading:
… the coach of the gymnasts that was …
… the coaches of the gymnast that was …
 Ambiguous, questionnaire:
… the coach of the gymnast that was …
MATERIALS
 Matrix with N of/de N in post-verbal position:
El periodista entrevistó al entrenador del gimnasta…
 Disambiguated, self-paced reading:
… el entrenador de los gimnastas que estaba ...
… los entrenadores del gimnasta que estaba …
 Ambiguous, questionnaire:
… el entrenador del gimnasta que estaba …
SELF-PACED READING TASK
EARLY PROCESSING
 Read DISAMBIGUATED sentences




presented in 2 frames
followed by comprehension questions
INDIRECT measure of preferences
which is faster, a forced low or a forced high
attachment?
… the coach of the gymnasts / that was …
forced high
Was
The
that
the
journalist
was
coach
signing
signing
interviewed
autographs
autographs
theduring
coach
during
the
of the
competition.
competition?
gymnasts
… the coaches of the gymnast / that was …
forced low
QUESTIONNAIRE TASK
LATER PROCESSING
 Read AMBIGUOUS sentences




typed on one line
followed by question about the attachment
DIRECT measure of preferences
which is chosen more frequently,
N2 or N1?
The journalist interviewed the coach of the gymnast that was sick.
Who was sick?
the coach
the gymnast
The dog bit the mailman and barked at the cat.
Who bit the mailman?
the dog
the cat
ON-LINE READING TIMES:
MONOLINGUALS
…
ofthe
thegymnasts
gymnast
… the
the coaches
coach of
FRAME1 2
FRAME
that
was signing
autographs
during the
competition.
The
journalist
interviewed
the coaches
of the
gymnast
USENG
150
high attachment
preference:
high faster
100
50
0
low attachment
preference:
low faster
-50
-100
-150
CSPA
ON-LINE READING TIMES:
MONOLINGUALS
USENG
CSPA
150
100
50
0
-50
-100
main effect of Site:
F1 (1,72) = 7.77, p < .01
F2 (1,20) = 6.15, p < .05
-150
Language  Site n/s
OFF-LINE PREFERENCES:
MONOLINGUALS
… the coach of the gymnast that was signing autographs…
Who was signing autographs?
USENG
25
high attachment
preference
50
low attachment
preference
75
the coach
coach
the
CSPA
the gymnast
gymnast
the
OFF-LINE PREFERENCES:
MONOLINGUALS
USENG
CSPA
25
50
75
main effect of Language:
F1 (1,44) = 5.48, p < .025
F2 (1,10) = 56.05, p < .001
MONOLINGUALS
USENG
150
CSPA
ON-LINE READING TIMES:
BILINGUALS
100
50
0
EDOM
SDOM
-50
-100
150
-150
100
50
0
-50
main effect of Site n/s:
F1, F2 < 1
Site  Language n/s
Site  Dominance n/s
Site  Dominance  Language n/s
-100
-150
ENG
SPA
ON-LINE READING TIMES:
MONOLINGUALS & BILINGUALS
USENG & CSPA
EDOM
SDOM
Relative Clause, Overall RTs (msec)
3200
3000
2800
2600
2400
2200
English
Materials
Spanish
Materials
SUBJECTS
Monolingual Speakers
of…
Bilingual Speakers
(from NYC)…
American
English
(USENG)
Castillian
Spanish
(CSPA)
N = 64
N = 64
Dominant in
English (EDOM)
Dominant in
Spanish (SDOM)
N = 40
N = 40
– 0.75
– 1.15
+ 0.72
+ 0.77
Self-Rated Proficiency
difference Eng – Spa,
listening/speaking
reading/writing
MONOLINGUALS
USENG
CSPA
OFF-LINE PREFERENCES:
25
BILINGUALS
50
EDOM
75
SDOM
25
50
main effect of Dominance:
F1 (1,40) = 9.04, p < .005
F2 (1,20) = 59.36, p < .001
75
ENG
SPA
Dominance  Language n/s
BILINGUAL SENTENCE PROCESSING:
1+1=1
 Do bilinguals process input as if they were monolinguals
of each of their languages?
NO
LATER PROCESSING
 EARLY
Differences
in monolingual
English
(low)monolinguals
and Spanish
 Low
attachment
in English and
Spanish
(high)
 Bilinguals
slower than monolinguals
 No
Language
independent
processing
in bilinguals

attachment
preferences
in English/Spanish
 bilinguals
Strategies associated with those of monolinguals in the
bilinguals’ dominant language
BILINGUAL SENTENCE PROCESSING
Babble babble in either language N1 P N2 RC…
HIGH if SDOM
Babble babble in either language N1 P N2 RC…
LOW if EDOM
BILINGUALS…
HIGH ATTACHMENT
if Spanish-dominant
X
X
LOW ATTACHMENT
if English-dominant
X
X
LANGUAGE DEPENDENT PROCESSING:
depending on the language of the stimulus?
LANGUAGE INDEPENDENT PROCESSING:
same strategies, no matter the language;
type of strategy based on language dominance
RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
CONVERGING EVIDENCE?
Brazilian Portuguese & English bilinguals
 off-line questionnaire
 BP L1 or EN L1
 BP L1 bilinguals: high in both languages
 EN L1 bilinguals: low in both languages
(Maia & Maia, 2001)
RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
CONVERGING EVIDENCE?
Spanish & English bilinguals
 off-line questionnaire
 early acquirers of Lx & Ly;
late acquirers of EN L2 or SP L2
 early acquirers: no preference
 late acquirers:
• EN L2: low in EN, high in SP
• SP L2: low in EN & SP
(Dussias, 2001)
RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
CONVERGING EVIDENCE?
Spanish & English bilinguals
 on-line self-paced reading, materials only in SP
 early acquirers of Lx & Ly;
late acquirers of EN L2 or SP L2
 early acquirers: no preference
 late acquirers:
• EN L2: high in SP
• SP L2: trend to high in SP
(Dussias, 2001)
RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
CONVERGING EVIDENCE?
speakers of Greek as L2
 on-line self-paced reading, materials only in GK
 late acquirers of GK, L1 speakers of SP, GE, RU
 all L2 learner groups: no preference
(Papadopoulou, 2002)
GENERAL CONCLUSIONS
 Relative Clause Attachment Preferences
 Similarity between English and Spanish in
early processing
 Departure from low attachment preference in
later phases of processing
 Bilingual sentence processing
 Evidence of language-independent strategy
use
 Strategies resemble those of monolingual
speakers of a bilingual’s dominant language
REMAINING PROBLEMS
 insensitive “on-line” task


did we miss the early low attachment preference in the bilinguals?
or do bilinguals not engage in structurally-based processing strategies?
 a mystery, what drives cross-linguistic differences
 grammar? (unlikely, given these results)
 person-based variable: lexical frequencies? tuning? prosody?
 circumstantial idiosyncrasies of bilinguals
 corroborate with evidence from other bilingual populations
 focus on language dominance: other variables?




manner and age of acquisition
frequency of language use
literacy, primary language of education
etc.
THANK YOU!

Please send questions and comments to:
Eva Fernández
[email protected]
download a copy of this presentation at:
http://www.qc.edu/~efernand/papers/emf_25nov02.ppt
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Bilingual and Monolingual Prosody in English and Spanish