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Bylund, E., Antfolk, J., Abrahamsson, N., Haug Olstad, A. M., Norrman, G. & Lehtonen, M. (2023). Does bilingualism come with linguistic costs? A meta-analytic review of the bilingual lexical deficit. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 30(3), 897-913
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Does bilingualism come with linguistic costs? A meta-analytic review of the bilingual lexical deficit
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2023 (English)In: Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, ISSN 1069-9384, E-ISSN 1531-5320, Vol. 30, no 3, p. 897-913Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A series of recent studies have shown that the once-assumed cognitive advantage of bilingualism finds little support in the evidence available to date. Surprisingly, however, the view that bilingualism incurs linguistic costs (the so-called lexical deficit) has not yet been subjected to the same degree of scrutiny, despite its centrality for our understanding of the human capacity for language. The current study implemented a comprehensive meta-analysis to address this gap. By analyzing 478 effect sizes from 130 studies on expressive vocabulary, we found that observed lexical deficits could not be attributed to bilingualism: Simultaneous bilinguals (who acquired both languages from birth) did not exhibit any lexical deficit, nor did sequential bilinguals (who acquired one language from birth and a second language after that) when tested in their mother tongue. Instead, systematic evidence for a lexical deficit was found among sequential bilinguals when tested in their second language, and more so for late than for early second language learners. This result suggests that a lexical deficit may be a phenomenon of second language acquisition rather than bilingualism per se.

Keywords
Age of acquisition, Bilingualism, Lexical deficit, Executive control, Vocabulary
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-211633 (URN)10.3758/s13423-022-02136-7 (DOI)000878441800002 ()36327027 (PubMedID)2-s2.0-85141391684 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2022-11-25 Created: 2022-11-25 Last updated: 2023-12-15Bibliographically approved
Abrahamsson, N. & Smeds, H. (2023). Is language aptitude immune to experience? Divergent evidence from bilingualism vs. blindness. In: Zhisheng (Edward) Wen; Peter Skehan; Richard L. Sparks (Ed.), Language aptitude theory and practice: (pp. 176-207). Cambridge University Press
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Is language aptitude immune to experience? Divergent evidence from bilingualism vs. blindness
2023 (English)In: Language aptitude theory and practice / [ed] Zhisheng (Edward) Wen; Peter Skehan; Richard L. Sparks, Cambridge University Press, 2023, p. 176-207Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Research articles on language aptitude, both past and recent, nearly without exception start off with a summative definition of the construct itself, declaring that language aptitude is generally considered to be a largely innate and relatively fixed talent that is relatively independent of other internal and external factors. Strangely enough, and as recently pointed out by several researchers (e.g., Chalmers, 2017; Li, 2016; Wen, Biedroń, & Skehan, 2017), this characterization of the nature and origin of language aptitude has rarely been challenged theoretically, let alone investigated empirically. In their overview, Wen, Biedroń, and Skehan (2017) contended that even though research methods have changed significantly in recent years, our knowledge about language aptitude itself “has not developed much at all since it started some 50 years ago,” summarizing that “the concept has remained intact – a relatively fixed trait that is not subject to malleability by later learning experience” (p. 6.). In other words, while empirical research on language aptitude has shifted its focus tremendously during the past 20 years, from the four-componential (black box-like) Carrollian paradigm (e.g., Carroll, 1958, 1962, 1973, 1981; Carroll&Sapon, 1959) to the more open-ended (Pandora’s box-like) “aptitude complexes” framework (e.g., Doughty, 2019; Linck et al., 2013; Robinson, 1997; 2002; Snow, 1994; Sparks et al., 2011), the traditional branding of language aptitude as a largely innate and relatively stable trait has stubbornly persisted. Unfortunately, this persistence not only runs the risk of fueling the already next-to-mystical reputation of language aptitude, but it also seems to have turned the concepts of innateness and stability into an ever-growing elephant in the room. Chalmers (2017) was right in stating that these issues have been grossly neglected, especially in the light of other developments in the field, and we agree with his conclusion that “with new ways of understanding L2 aptitude more holistically [. . .] and some researchers questioning Carroll’s original thinking [. . .], now seems an appropriate time to revisit the issues of stability and untrainability in L2 aptitude” (p. 93).

In this contribution, we explore the question of whether there is reason to maintain the traditional view of language aptitude as a relatively fixed trait that is resistant to experience, or if it should instead be seen as a rather flexible and acquirable skill. We compare the relative experiential effects of (1) having learned an L2 and having been a long-term functional and fluent bilingual in adulthood with (2) having lived with total visual deprivation for a significant period of life. Both bilingualism and visual loss have been reported to have enhancing effects on language-related as well as non-linguistic cognition, but few studies have focused on their effects on language aptitude specifically, especially in the case of blindness. The chapter closes with a discussion on what it would mean for current views on the role of age of L2 acquisition and critical period(s) if the above-average language aptitude hitherto robustly associated with adult near-native L2 learning should turn out to be nothing but an effect of L2 learning itself.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cambridge University Press, 2023
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-218987 (URN)10.1017/9781009076463.011 (DOI)9781316513996 (ISBN)
Available from: 2023-06-30 Created: 2023-06-30 Last updated: 2024-01-30Bibliographically approved
Freunberger, D., Bylund, E. & Abrahamsson, N. (2022). Is It Time to Reconsider the ‘Gold Standard’ for Nativelikeness in ERP Studies on Grammatical Processing in a Second Language? A Critical Assessment Based on Qualitative Individual Differences . Applied Linguistics, 43(3), 433-452
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Is It Time to Reconsider the ‘Gold Standard’ for Nativelikeness in ERP Studies on Grammatical Processing in a Second Language? A Critical Assessment Based on Qualitative Individual Differences 
2022 (English)In: Applied Linguistics, ISSN 0142-6001, E-ISSN 1477-450X, Vol. 43, no 3, p. 433-452Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In most event-related potential (ERP) studies on the second language (L2) processing, the native speaker (L1) control group’s grand average ERP pattern serves as the ‘gold standard’ that the L2 group has to reach to be labeled ‘native-like’. This relies on the assumption that the grand average is representative of all or most individuals in a group. Recent research, however, has shown that there can be considerable systematic qualitative variability between individuals even in coherent L1 samples, especially in studies on morphosyntactic processing. We discuss how these qualitative individual differences can undermine previous findings from the gold standard paradigm, and critically assess the main ERP components used as markers for nativelike grammatical processing, namely the left-anterior negativity and the P600. We argue that qualitative variation reflects the dynamics characteristic of nativelike grammatical processing and propose a model for experimental designs that can capture these processing dynamics and, thereby, has the potential to provide a more fine-grained understanding of nativelike attainment in an L2.

National Category
Languages and Literature
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-206833 (URN)10.1093/applin/amab058 (DOI)000804858200002 ()
Available from: 2022-08-03 Created: 2022-08-03 Last updated: 2023-09-14Bibliographically approved
Bylund, E., Hyltenstam, K. & Abrahamsson, N. (2021). Age of acquisition – not bilingualism – is the primary determinant of less than nativelike L2 ultimate attainment. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 24(1), 18-30
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Age of acquisition – not bilingualism – is the primary determinant of less than nativelike L2 ultimate attainment
2021 (English)In: Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, ISSN 1366-7289, E-ISSN 1469-1841, Vol. 24, no 1, p. 18-30Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

It has recently been suggested that bilingualism, rather than age of acquisition, is what underlies less than nativelike attainment in childhood L2 acquisition. Currently, however, the empirical evidence in favor of or against this interpretation remains scarce. The present study sets out to fill this gap, implementing a novel factorial design in which the variables age of acquisition and bilingualism have been fully crossed. Eighty speakers of Swedish, who were either L1 monolinguals, L1 simultaneous bilinguals, L2 sequential monolinguals (international adoptees), or L2 sequential bilinguals (childhood immigrants), were tested on phonetic, grammatical, and lexical measures. The results indicate consistent effects of age of acquisition, but only limited effects of bilingualism, on ultimate attainment. These findings thus show that age of acquisition – not bilingualism – is the primary determinant of L2 ultimate attainment.

Keywords
critical period hypothesis, ultimate attainment, bilingualism effects, international adoptees, simultaneous bilingualism
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Research subject
Bilingualism
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-188054 (URN)10.1017/S1366728920000188 (DOI)000600600100002 ()
Funder
Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, M2005-0459Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, SAB16-0051:1
Available from: 2020-12-21 Created: 2020-12-22 Last updated: 2022-02-25Bibliographically approved
Abrahamsson, N. & Bylund, E. (2021). Ligger "nästan inföddlikhet" i tvåspråkighetens natur? Om ålders- vs tvåspråkighetseffekter vid andraspråksinlärning. Språk och stil, 31(1), 108-142
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Ligger "nästan inföddlikhet" i tvåspråkighetens natur? Om ålders- vs tvåspråkighetseffekter vid andraspråksinlärning
2021 (Swedish)In: Språk och stil, ISSN 1101-1165, E-ISSN 2002-4010, Vol. 31, no 1, p. 108-142Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [sv]

Den relativt nyvunna insikten att den slutliga behärskningsnivån i ett andraspråk (L2) hos tidiga inlärare inte alltid (eller ens särskilt ofta) är helt och hållet jämförbar med den hos infödda talare har lett till ett ifrågasättande av inlärningsålder som orsaken till denna "nästan" (snarare än helt) inföddlika L2-behärskning. En fullt möjlig och i dagsläget mycket omhuldad tolkning är att sådana skillnader i stället uppkommer naturligt som en artefakt av jämförelsen mellan enspråkiga och tvåspråkiga individer, och att blotta närvaron av två aktiva språksystem ger oundvikliga avtryck på den språkliga representationen och processningen – på båda språken och oavsett inlärningsålder. Till samma tankegods hör antagandet att den snabba och totala förlusten av förstaspråket (L1) hos internationellt adopterade barn möjliggör en så kallad "neural nollställning", så att enspråkig, inföddliknande inlärning av det nya språket blir det givna resultatet, medan ett bevarat, aktivt modersmål (hos t.ex. invandrarbarn) däremot utgör ett "filter" genom vilket andraspråket lärs in och färgas. Ett avgörande problem med dessa teorier är dock att de i princip helt saknar stöd i empiriska studier. Mot bakgrund av dessa nya (eller nygamla?) idétrender inom andraspråksforskningen presenterar vi därför i denna artikel en nyligen avslutad studie som på ett direkt sätt angriper frågan om ålderseffekter vs tvåspråkighetseffekter.

National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Research subject
Bilingualism
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-196634 (URN)10.33063/diva-434153 (DOI)
Available from: 2021-09-09 Created: 2021-09-09 Last updated: 2023-10-20Bibliographically approved
Bylund, E., Abrahamsson, N., Hyltenstam, K. & Norrman, G. (2019). Revisiting the bilingual lexical deficit: The impact of age of acquisition. Cognition, 182, 45-49
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Revisiting the bilingual lexical deficit: The impact of age of acquisition
2019 (English)In: Cognition, ISSN 0010-0277, E-ISSN 1873-7838, Vol. 182, p. 45-49Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Whereas the cognitive advantages brought about by bilingualism have recently been called into question, the so-called ‘lexical deficit’ in bilinguals is still largely taken for granted. Here, we argue that, in analogy with cognitive advantages, the lexical deficit does not apply across the board of bilinguals, but varies as a function of acquisition trajectory. To test this, we implement a novel methodological design, where the variables of bilingualism and first/second language status have been fully crossed in four different groups. While the results confirm effects of bilingualism on lexical proficiency and processing, they show more robust effects of age of acquisition. We conclude that the traditional view of the linguistic costs of bilingualism need to give way to a new understanding of lexical development in which age of acquisition is seen as a major determinant.

Keywords
Bilingualism, Lexical deficit, Age of acquisition, International adoptees, Cognitive advantage
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-160030 (URN)10.1016/j.cognition.2018.08.020 (DOI)000454375800006 ()
Available from: 2018-09-16 Created: 2018-09-16 Last updated: 2022-03-17Bibliographically approved
Abrahamsson, N., Hyltenstam, K. & Bylund, E. (2018). Age effects on language acquisition, retention and loss. Key hypotheses and findings. In: Kenneth Hyltenstam, Inge Bartning, Lars Fant (Ed.), High-Level Language Proficiency in Second Language and Multilingual Contexts: (pp. 16-49). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Age effects on language acquisition, retention and loss. Key hypotheses and findings
2018 (English)In: High-Level Language Proficiency in Second Language and Multilingual Contexts / [ed] Kenneth Hyltenstam, Inge Bartning, Lars Fant, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018, p. 16-49Chapter in book (Refereed)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-157377 (URN)10.1017/9781316809686.002 (DOI)978-1-107-17592-1 (ISBN)
Funder
Riksbankens Jubileumsfond
Available from: 2018-06-16 Created: 2018-06-16 Last updated: 2022-03-17Bibliographically approved
Abrahamsson, N. (2018). But first, let's think again!. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 21(5), 906-907
Open this publication in new window or tab >>But first, let's think again!
2018 (English)In: Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, ISSN 1366-7289, E-ISSN 1469-1841, Vol. 21, no 5, p. 906-907Article in journal, Editorial material (Other academic) Published
Abstract [en]

On the basis of their review of studies, Mayberry and Kluender (2017) propose that the human language learning ability becomes severely compromised if it is not developed in tandem with brain development in early childhood, but that it functions more or less flawlessly, even in adulthood, if language acquisition had at one time proceeded according to the maturational timetable. Mayberry and Kluender therefore suggest that the critical period hypothesis (CPH) for language is unambiguously tied to the timing of L1 acquisition, but that its relevance to L2 acquisition is less clear, the implication being that the well-documented AoA effects in the SLA literature are due to non-maturational (i.e., psychological, experiential, cross-linguistic, etc.) causes.

National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-153241 (URN)10.1017/S1366728918000251 (DOI)000448296400003 ()
Available from: 2018-02-22 Created: 2018-02-22 Last updated: 2022-02-28Bibliographically approved
Stölten, K., Abrahamsson, N. & Hyltenstam, K. (2015). Effects of age and speaking rate on voice onset time: The production of voiceless stops by near-native L2 speakers. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 37(1), 71-100
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Effects of age and speaking rate on voice onset time: The production of voiceless stops by near-native L2 speakers
2015 (English)In: Studies in Second Language Acquisition, ISSN 0272-2631, E-ISSN 1470-1545, Vol. 37, no 1, p. 71-100Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

As part of a research project on the investigation of second language (L2) ultimate attainment in 41 Spanish early and late near-native speakers of L2 Swedish, the present study reports on voice onset time (VOT) analyses of the production of Swedish word-initial voiceless stops, /p t k/. VOT is analyzed in milliseconds as well as in percentages of word duration, thereby accounting for speaking rate effects. The results revealed an overall age effect on VOT production; however, this age effect became salient and sta­tistically significant for all three stops only when speaking rate was taken into consider­ation. Similarly, when speaking rate was accounted for, only a small minority of the late learners exhibited actual nativelike L2 behavior, and most (but far from all) early learn­ers performed within native-speaker range. The results are taken as an indication for relative VOT, as opposed to absolute VOT, constituting a reliable measure of nativelike L2 stop production, which has important implications for future research on age effects and maturational constraints in L2 acquisition.

National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
Bilingualism
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-95251 (URN)10.1017/S0272263114000151 (DOI)000349973100003 ()
Projects
Age of onset and ultimate attainment in second language acquisition (The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation, grant no. 1999-0383:01)
Available from: 2013-10-24 Created: 2013-10-24 Last updated: 2022-02-24Bibliographically approved
Stölten, K., Abrahamsson, N. & Hyltenstam, K. (2014). Effects of age of learning on voice onset time: Categorical perception of Swedish stops by near-native L2 speakers. Language and Speech, 57(4), 425-450
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Effects of age of learning on voice onset time: Categorical perception of Swedish stops by near-native L2 speakers
2014 (English)In: Language and Speech, ISSN 0023-8309, E-ISSN 1756-6053, Vol. 57, no 4, p. 425-450Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study examined the effects of age of onset (AO) of L2 acquisition on the cate­gorical perception of the voicing contrast in Swedish word-initial stops varying in Voice Onset Time (VOT). Three voicing continua created on the basis of natural Swedish word pairs with /p–b/, /t–d/, /k–ɡ/ in initial position were presented to 41 Spanish early (AO < 12) and late (AO > 12) near-native speakers of L2 Swedish. 15 native speakers of Swedish served as controls. Categorizations were influenced by AO and listener status as L1/L2 speaker, in that the late learners deviated the most from native-speaker perception. In addition, only a small minority of the late learners perceived the voicing contrast in a way comparable to native-speaker cate­gorization, while most early L2 learners demonstrated nativelike categorization patterns. However, when the results were combined with the L2 learners’ produc­tion of Swedish voiceless stops (Stölten, 2005; Stölten, Abrahamsson & Hylten­stam, in press), nativelike production and perception was never found among the late learners, while a majority of the early learners still exhibited nativelike pro­duction and perception. It is concluded that, despite their being perceived as mother-tongue speakers of Swedish by native listeners, the late learners do not, after detailed phonetic scrutiny, exhibit a fully nativelike command of Swedish VOT. Consequently, being near-native rather than nativelike speakers of their second language, these individuals do not constitute the evidence necessary to reject the hypothesis of one or several critical (or sensitive) periods for language acquisition.

Keywords
Age of onset (AO), voice onset time (VOT), categorical perception, near-nativeness, L2 acquisition
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
Bilingualism
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-95259 (URN)10.1177/0023830913508760 (DOI)000345304600001 ()
Projects
Age of onset and ultimate attainment in second language acquisition (The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation, grant no. 1999-0383:01)
Available from: 2013-10-24 Created: 2013-10-24 Last updated: 2022-02-24Bibliographically approved
Organisations
Identifiers
ORCID iD: ORCID iD iconorcid.org/0000-0001-9254-9743

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