Investigating effects of bilingualism on syntactic processing: Testing structural sensitivity theory

Tik Sze Carrey SIU, Suk-Han Connie HO

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

The present study compared Chinese-English bilinguals and English monolinguals within three age groups to examine whether bilinguals have an advantage in syntactic processing. Participants were tested on morphosyntactic awareness, word-order awareness, artificial syntax learning, and general cognitive abilities. Bilinguals within the three age groups performed better than their monolingual peers in acquiring a novel syntax and in processing morphosyntax specific to English. The bilingual adults also outperformed their monolingual peers in processing language-specific word order. Overall, the findings give credence to the structural sensitivity theory in accounting for bilingual syntactic processing. A bilingual advantage in language processing appears not confined to knowledge of and strategies specific to the additional language but constitutes a more abstract representation of underlying linguistic structure. Bilingual effects are also qualified by cross-language differences in linguistic features, age, and the amount of bilingual experience. Copyright © 2022 Language Learning Research Club, University of Michigan.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)534-575
JournalLanguage Learning
Volume72
Issue number2
Early online date06 Feb 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

Citation

Siu, T.-S. C., & Ho, S.-H. C. (2022). Investigating effects of bilingualism on syntactic processing: Testing structural sensitivity theory. Language Learning, 72(2), 534-575. doi: 10.1111/lang.12494

Keywords

  • Syntactic processing
  • Word order
  • Morphosyntax
  • Artificial syntax
  • Bilingualism

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