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Di Pisa: Effects of markedness in gender processing inItalian as a heritage language
'The Multilingual Mind: Lecture series on multilingualism across disciplines' 13.12.2022 Grazia Di Pisa (University of Konstanz): Effects of markedness in gender processing in Italian as a heritage language: A speed accuracy tradeoff Abstract Grammatical gender (hereafter gender) – especially in systems (like Romance languages) that typically have a relatively transparent system – is acquired early by monolingual children (e.g., Kupisch, Müller & Cantone, 2002). Yet gender shows variability in (some) heritage speaker bilinguals (HSs). In a HS context, it is vulnerable for low proficiency speakers generally and especially when the majority language lacks gender (e.g., Polinsky, 2008). Conversely, gender seems to be on target when acquired in HS individuals with high proficiency, especially when the majority language has gender (e.g., Bianchi, 2013). Herein, we examined sources of potential morphological variability in Italian HSs living in Germany (a language pairing where both have gender, albeit with important differences), with a focus on morphological markedness (masculine as the default) and task type (explicit vs. implicit knowledge). Fifty-four adult Italian HSs living in Germany and 40 homeland Italian speakers completed an online Self-Paced Reading Task and an offline Grammaticality Judgment Task. Both tasks involved sentences with grammatical and ungrammatical noun-adjective agreement, manipulating markedness. In grammatical sentences, both groups showed a markedness effect: shorter reading times (RTs) and higher accuracy for sentences containing masculine nouns as compared to sentences with feminine nouns. In ungrammatical sentences, although both groups were sensitive to ungrammaticality, only HSs showed a markedness effect, that is, they had significantly longer RTs and higher accuracy when violations were realized on feminine adjectives. Proficiency in the HL was a significant predictor of accuracy and RTs at the individual level. Taken together, results indicate that HSs acquire and process gender in a qualitatively similar way to homeland native speakers. However, RT evidence seems to suggest that at least under particular experimental methods, markedness considerations are more prevalent for HSs resulting in a speed-accuracy tradeoff. Organised by the University of Konstanz and the Marie Curie ITN project 'The Multilingual Mind' (765556).
Golestani: Language processing in the healthy, multilingual and expert brain
'The Multilingual Mind: Lecture series on multilingualism across disciplines' 18.01.2022 Narly Golestani (University of Geneva) Language processing in the healthy, multilingual and expert brain Abstract There are large individual differences in speech and language processing skills at different levels of the linguistic hierarchy, and these are likely modulated by experience-dependent plasticity but also by possible differences in innate predisposition. I will provide an overview of a body of research in which we have explored brain functional and structural differences underlying speech and language processing, in the context of healthy individual differences but also extending to multilingualism, to language expertise (e.g. in phoneticians and simultaneous interpreters) and to dysfunction (e.g. in dyslexia and aphasia). In this context I will also describe our rapidly growing body of work on variation in auditory cortex anatomy and phonetic learning, dyslexia, aphasia and musicianship, and describe how we plan to explore the relative influences of nature vs nurture on these individual differences, across the lifespan. Organised by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Jagiellonian University, University of Konstanz, University Milano-Bicocca, University of Reading and the Marie Curie ITN project 'The Multilingual Mind' (765556).
Gámez: Gestures as scaffolding to learn vocabulary in a foreign language
'The Multilingual Mind: Lecture series on multilingualism across disciplines' 11.01.2022 Ana Belén García Gámez (University of Algarve) Gestures as scaffolding to learn vocabulary in a foreign language Abstract In two experimental studies we explored the role of gestures on foreign language (FL) vocabulary learning. First, we evaluated the impact of gestures on nouns (Experiment 1) and verbs learning (Experiment 2). Four training methods were compared: The learning of FL words with congruent gestures, incongruent gestures, meaningless gestures, and no gestures. Better vocabulary learning was found in both experiments when participants learned FL words with congruent gestures relative to the no gesture condition. This result indicates that gestures have a positive effect on FL learning when there is a match between the word meaning and the gesture. However, the recall of words in the incongruent and meaningless gesture condition was lower than that of the no gesture condition. This suggests that gestures might have a negative impact on FL learning. I will analyze these results in terms of FL learning facilitation and interference effects. However, a question remained, do we have to perform the gestures ourselves to observe the learning improvement? A third experiment addressed this topic directly. Participants were divided in two experimental groups. In one group, the participants learned the words by performing gestures (“do” teaching group) and the other group only had to observe the gestures performed by others (“see” teaching group). Compared to the meaningless gesture condition, the processing of congruent gestures facilitated the recall of FL words in the “see” and “do” teaching groups. However, the interference effect associated with the processing of incongruent gestures was greater in the “see” teaching group than in the “do” teaching group. Thus, the performance of gestures seems to mitigate the negative impact that the use of gestures may have on the teaching of vocabulary in a FL. Taken together, iconic gestures might be a good tool to learn new vocabulary in a FL when the gestures and words meaning match. In addition, the gestures performance mitigates negative effects associated with meaning mismatches. Hence, if one has to choose, a FL learning strategy based on the performance of congruent iconic gestures would be desirable. Organised by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Jagiellonian University, University of Konstanz, University Milano-Bicocca, University of Reading and the Marie Curie ITN project 'The Multilingual Mind' (765556).