Tatiana Kohlstedt and Nivedita Mani (2018)

The influence of increasing discourse context on L1 and L2 spoken language processing

Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 21(1):121-136.

Using the visual world paradigm, we compared first, L1 and L2 speakers’ anticipation of upcoming information in a discourse and second, L1 and L2 speakers’ ability to infer the meaning of unknown words in a discourse based on the semantic cues provided in spoken language context. It was found that native speakers were able to use the given contextual cues, throughout the discourse, to anticipate upcoming linguistic input and fixate targets consistent with the input thus far, while L2 speakers showed weaker effects of discourse context on target fixations. However, both native speakers and L2 learners alike were able to use contextual information to infer the meaning of unknown words embedded in the discourse and fixate images associated with the inferred meanings of these words, especially given adequate contextual information. We suggest that these results reflect similarly successful integration of the preceding semantic information and the construction of integrated mental representations of the described scenarios in L1 and L2.

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