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A double mind

Book - Dissertation

Subtitle:syntactic representations in bilingual speakers
When learning a language, one needs to acquire the grammatical structures of the new language. Using structural priming, I studied how mental representations of such syntactic structures are formed during the process of learning a language, and how the syntactic representations of one language affect the syntactic representations of another language. Previous production studies suggest that L2 learners might start with item-specific and language-specific syntactic representations, which become abstract and shared between languages over time. I investigated how this transition takes place. My findings suggest that (i) beginning L2 learners of Dutch do indeed start with item-specific representations, which become abstract earlier for less complex structures than for more complex structures. However, (ii) very proficient L2 speakers of Dutch seem to have connected syntactic representations rather than shared representations between languages, and these connected syntactic representations cause cross-linguistic influence. Finally, (iii) a number of comprehension studies suggest that the processing of syntactic structures is not only determined by the nature of the syntactic representations, but also by explicit memory and residual activation of syntactic structures, and implicit learning of syntactic rules, and these factors have a different impact on L2 sentence processing at different stages of language learning.
Number of pages: 200
Publication year:2023
Keywords:Doctoral thesis