Referent salience affects second language article use

Danijela Trenkic, Nattama Pongpairoj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effect of referent salience on second language (L2) article production in real time was explored. Thai (- articles) and French (+ articles) learners of English described dynamic events involving two referents, one visually cued to be more salient at the point of utterance formulation. Definiteness marking was made communicatively redundant with all referents. Thai groups omitted articles more with more than with less salient referents. The results corroborate previous off-line data suggestive of the salience effect for L2 users from article-less L1 backgrounds, but point against the view that this is due to the redundancy of definiteness marking. The results seem better explained by persistent grammatical competition between L1 and L2 structures, consistent with the view that language systems within a bilingual mind cannot be kept fully apart.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-166
Number of pages15
JournalBilingualism: Language and Cognition
Issue number1
Early online date17 May 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013

Cite this