Cross-linguistic influence in first and second lanuages: Convergence in speech and gesture
Cross-linguistic influence in first and second lanuages: Convergence in speech and gesture. PhD Thesis, Boston University, Boston.
Research on second language acquisition typically focuses on how a first
language (L1) influences a second language (L2) in different linguistic
domains and across modalities. This dissertation, in contrast, explores
interactions between languages in the mind of a language learner by asking
1) can an emerging L2 influence an established L1? 2) if so, how is such
influence realized? 3) are there parallel influences of the L1 on the L2?
These questions were investigated for the expression of Manner (e.g. climb,
roll) and Path (e.g. up, down) of motion, areas where substantial
crosslinguistic differences exist in speech and co-speech gesture. Japanese
and English are typologically distinct in this domain; therefore, narrative
descriptions of four motion events were elicited from monolingual Japanese
speakers (n=16), monolingual English speakers (n=13), and native Japanese
speakers with intermediate knowledge of English (narratives elicited in
both their L1 and L2, n=28). Ways in which Path and Manner were expressed
at the lexical, syntactic, and gestural levels were analyzed in monolingual
and non-monolingual production.
Results suggest mutual crosslinguistic influences. In their L1, native
Japanese speakers with knowledge of English displayed both Japanese- and
English-like use of morphosyntactic elements to express Path and Manner
(i.e. a combination of verbs and other constructions). Consequently,
non-monolingual L1 discourse contained significantly more Path expressions
per clause, with significantly greater mention of Goal of motion than
monolingual Japanese and English discourse. Furthermore, the gestures of
non-monolingual speakers diverged from their monolingual counterparts with
differences in depiction of Manner and gesture perspective (character
versus observer). Importantly, non-monolingual production in the L1 was not
ungrammatical, but simply reflected altered preferences. As for L2
production, many effects of L1 influence were seen, crucially in areas
parallel to those described above.
Overall, production by native Japanese speakers who knew English differed
from that of monolingual Japanese and English speakers. But L1 and L2
production within non-monolingual individuals was similar. These findings
imply a convergence of L1-L2 linguistic systems within the mind of a
language learner. Theoretical and methodological implications for SLA
research and language assessment with respect to the ‘native speaker
standard language’ are discussed.