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Referent salience affects second language article use

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JournalBilingualism: Language and Cognition
DateE-pub ahead of print - 17 May 2012
DatePublished (current) - Jan 2013
Issue number1
Volume16
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)152-166
Early online date17/05/12
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

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.

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