A new publication by Agnieszka Otwinowska, Marta Marecka, Alba Casado, Joanna Durlik, Jakub Szewczyk, Marcin Opacki and Zofia Wodniecka is now available: Does L2 Proficiency Impact L2-L1 Transfer While Reading L1 Collocations? Evidence From Behavioral and ERP Data Click here for more information!
Abstract:Multi-word expressions (MWEs) are fixed, conventional phrases often used by native speakers of a given language (L1). The type of MWEs investigated in this study were collocations. For bilinguals who have intensive contact with the second language (L2), collocational patterns can be transferred from the L2 to the L1 as a result of cross-linguistic influence (CLI). For example, bilingual migrants can accept collocations from their L2 translated to their L1 as correct. In this study, we asked whether such CLI is possible in native speakers living in the L1 environment and whether it depends on their L2 English proficiency. To this end, we created three lists of expressions in Polish: (1) well-formed Polish verb-noun collocations (e.g., ma sens – ∗has sense), (2) collocational calques from English (loan translations), where the English verb was replaced by a Polish translation equivalent (e.g., ∗robi sens – makes sense), and, as a reference (3) absurd verb-noun expression, where the verb did not collocate with the noun (e.g., ∗zjada sens – ∗eats sense). We embedded the three types of collocations in sentences and presented them to L1 Polish participants of varying L2 English proficiency in two experiments. We investigated whether L2 calques would (1) be explicitly judged as non-native in the L1; (2) whether they would evoke differential brain response than native L1 Polish equivalents in the event-related potentials (ERPs). We also explored whether the sensitivity to CLI in calques depended on participants’ level of proficiency in L2 English. The results indicated that native speakers of Polish assessed the calques from English as less acceptable than the correct Polish collocations. Still, there was no difference in online processing of correct and calques collocations as measured by the ERPs. This suggests a dissociation between explicit offline judgments and indices of online language processing. Interestingly, English L2 proficiency did not modulate these effects. The results indicate that the influence of English on Polish is so pervasive that collocational calques from this language are likely to become accepted and used by Poles.