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Thinking Is Modulated by Recent Linguistic Experience: Second Language Priming Affects Perceived Event Similarity
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Swedish Language and Multilingualism, Centre for Research on Bilingualism.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5546-6834
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Swedish Language and Multilingualism, Centre for Research on Bilingualism. Stellenbosch University, South Africa.
2016 (English)In: Language learning, ISSN 0023-8333, E-ISSN 1467-9922, Vol. 66, no 3, 636-665 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Can recent second language (L2) exposure affect what we judge to be similar events? Using a priming paradigm, we manipulated whether native Swedish adult learners of L2 Spanish were primed to use path or manner during L2 descriptions of scenes depicting caused motion events (encoding phase). Subsequently, participants engaged in a nonverbal task, arranging events on the screen according to similarity (test phase). Path versus manner priming affected how participants judged event similarity during the test phase. The effects we find support the hypotheses that (a) speakers create or select ad hoc conceptual categories that are based on linguistic knowledge to carry out nonverbal tasks, and that (b) short-term, recent L2 experience can affect this ad hoc process. These findings further suggest that cognition can flexibly draw on linguistic categories that have been implicitly highlighted during recent exposure.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 66, no 3, 636-665 p.
Keyword [en]
motion events, linguistic relativity, event similarity, bilingual cognition, Spanish, Swedish
National Category
Languages and Literature Psychology
Research subject
Bilingualism
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-133513DOI: 10.1111/lang.12172ISI: 000380701500007OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-133513DiVA: diva2:967422
Available from: 2016-09-08 Created: 2016-09-08 Last updated: 2017-05-08Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Thoughts in Motion: The Role of Long-Term L1 and Short-Term L2 Experience when Talking and Thinking of Caused Motion
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Thoughts in Motion: The Role of Long-Term L1 and Short-Term L2 Experience when Talking and Thinking of Caused Motion
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis is about whether language affects thinking. It deals with the linguistic relativity hypothesis, which proposes that the language we speak influences the way we think. This hypothesis is investigated in the domain of caused motion (e.g., ‘The man rolled the tyre into the garage’), by looking at Spanish and Swedish, two languages that show striking differences in how motion events are encoded. The thesis consists of four studies. The first two focus on native speakers of Spanish and Swedish. Study I compares how Spanish and Swedish speakers describe the same set of caused motion events, directing the spotlight at how variable the descriptions are in each language. The results confirm earlier findings from semantic typology regarding the dominant ways of expressing the events in each language: Spanish behaves like a verb-framed language and Swedish like a satellite-framed language (Talmy, 2000). Going beyond previous findings, the study demonstrates—using the tools of entropy and Monte Carlo simulations—that there is markedly more variability in Spanish than in Swedish descriptions. Study II tests whether differences in how Spanish and Swedish speakers describe caused motion events are reflected in how they think about such events. Using a novel similarity arrangement task, it is found that Spanish and Swedish speakers partly differ in how they represent caused motion events if they can access language during the task. However, the differences disappear when the possibility to use language is momentarily blocked by an interference task. The last two studies focus on Swedish learners of Spanish as a second language (L2). Study III explores how Swedish learners (compared to native Spanish speakers) adapt their Spanish motion descriptions to recently encountered input. Using insights from the literature on structural priming, we find that Swedish learners initially expect to encounter in their L2, Spanish, those verb types that are typical in Swedish (manner verbs like ‘roll’) but that, with increasing proficiency, their expectations become increasingly attuned to the typical Spanish pattern of using path verbs (like ‘enter’).  These expectations are reflected in the way L2 learners adapt their own production to the Spanish input. Study IV asks whether recent linguistic experience in an L2 can affect how L2 learners think about motion events. It is found that encountering motion descriptions in the L2 that emphasize different types of information (path or manner) leads L2 speakers to perceive similarity along different dimensions in a subsequent similarity arrangement task. Taken together, the thesis argues that the study of the relation between language and thought affords more valuable insights when not posed as an either-or question (i.e., does language affect thought or not?). In this spirit, the thesis contributes to the wider aim of investigating the conditions under which language does or does not affect thought and explores what the different outcomes tell us about language, thought, and the intricate mechanisms that relate them.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Centre for Research on Bilingualism Department of Swedish and Multilingualism, Stockholm University, 2017
Series
Dissertations in Bilingualism, ISSN 1400-5921 ; 27
Keyword
Linguistic relativity, language and thought, conceptualization, thinking for speaking, semantic typology, lexicalization patterns, events, caused motion, bilingualism, second language acquisition, transfer, adaptation, priming, Spanish, Swedish
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics Specific Languages Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Research subject
Bilingualism
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-142197 (URN)978-91-7649-807-1 (ISBN)978-91-7649-808-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-06-10, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Manuscript. Paper 3: Manuscript.

Available from: 2017-05-17 Created: 2017-05-02 Last updated: 2017-05-18Bibliographically approved

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Montero-Melis, GuillermoBylund, Emanuel
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