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Second language influence on first language motion event encoding and categorization in Spanish-speaking children learning L2 English

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>08/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>International Journal of Bilingualism
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)403-420
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date5/11/15
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Studies show cross-linguistic differences in motion event encoding, such that English speakers preferentially encode manner of motion more than Spanish speakers, who preferentially encode path of motion. Focusing on native Spanish speaking children (aged 5;00–9;00) learning L2 English, we studied path and manner verb preferences during descriptions of motion stimuli, and tested the linguistic relativity hypothesis by investigating categorization preferences in a non-verbal similarity judgement task of motion clip triads. Results revealed L2 influence on L1 motion event encoding, such that bilinguals used more manner verbs and fewer path verbs in their L1, under the influence of English. We found no effects of linguistic structure on non-verbal similarity judgements, and demonstrate for the first time effects of L2 on L1 lexicalization in child L2 learners in the domain of motion events. This pattern of verbal behaviour supports theories of bilingual semantic representation that postulate a merged lexico-semantic system in early bilinguals.