Forskarseminariet i lingvistik: Swedish tonal word accents and lexical access in early bilinguals
Nadja Althaus, University of East Anglia
During language development, bilinguals growing up hearing Swedish from one parent and a different (non-tonal) language from the other must deal with the fact that tone is relevant for lexical access in one of their languages, but not in the other. One open question is whether this affects the way these early bilinguals use tonal accents during lexical access. I will present results from a semantic priming study and a fragment completion study with eye tracking that provide insight into different aspects of this question. As we shall see, the evidence from a lexical decision task with semantic priming is that early bilinguals, just like monolingual native speakers, use tonal word accent to restrict lexical activation. However, eye movements in the second study reveal that the processes involved in discriminating lexical entries solely on the basis of tonal word accent is more effortful for bilinguals. I will discuss what this means for the acquisition process and implications for representation in the mental lexicon.