Date

2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Science

Department

Psychology

First Adviser

Malt, Barbara

Other advisers/committee members

O'Seaghdha, Padraig; Lee, Kiri

Abstract

Traditionally, L1 has been viewed as a static system once mature and fully acquired. However, recent findings in language research have challenged this idea. It is possible that language, even L1 in its fully mature state, is a far more dynamic system than originally conceptualized. This paper reports two studies that examine second language (L2) English influence on first language (L1) Korean animacy constraints and word order in Korean-English bilinguals and investigate under what conditions the L2 influence is present. The first study evaluated whether L2 syntactic influence occurs only due to cognitive load under conditions of time pressure, or if it occurs regardless of cognitive load and thus represents long-term changes to the way that bilinguals use and process their L1 syntax. Bilingual participants did not use the animacy constraints that Korean monolinguals did when making grammaticality judgments, and this difference was present in conditions both with and without time pressure. Although bilingual participants continued to employ canonical Korean word order in their grammaticality judgments, they relied more heavily on word order when making their grammaticality judgments in Korean than monolingual participants. The second study evaluated whether Korean-English bilinguals accessed their L1 knowledge of Korean animacy constraints and word order in a forced choice task that relieves participants of the need to retrieve the native grammatical form from memory. Korean-English bilinguals did not access monolingual-like Korean animacy constraints even under such conditions, as shown by not consistently choosing the more native-like option. However, they did not perform in a significantly different manner than monolinguals for choices involving word order. These findings indicate that L2 English influence on L1 syntax is pervasive and may represent an inability to access L1 grammatical information even in conditions with the fewest cognitive demands. Together these studies provide more evidence pointing to the dynamic nature of L1 syntactic components.

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Psychology Commons

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