Syntactic and semantic influences on the time course of relative clause processing: the role of language dominance
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We conducted a visual world eye-tracking experiment with highly proficient Spanish-English bilingual adults to investigate the effects of relative language dominance, operationalized as a continuous, multidimensional variable, on the time course of relative clause processing in the first-learned language, Spanish. We found that participants exhibited two distinct processing preferences: a semantically driven preference to assign agency to referents of lexically animate noun phrases and a syntactically driven preference to interpret relative clauses as subject-extracted. Spanish dominance was found to exert a distinct influence on each of these preferences, gradiently attenuating the semantic preference while gradiently exaggerating the syntactic preference. While these results might be attributable to particular properties of Spanish and English, they also suggest a possible generalization that greater dominance in a language increases reliance on language-specific syntactic processing strategies while correspondingly decreasing reliance on more domain-general semantic processing strategies.
ANID/PIA/Basal Funds for Centers of Excellence FB0003
Artículo de publícación WoS
Quote ItemBrain Sci. 2021, 11, 989
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