The Impact of Animacy and Positioning on the Production of Second Language Referring Expressions

Adonis de Carvalho Borges, University of Texas at El Paso

Abstract

Researches have investigated how referring expressions are produced based upon second language acquisition and psycholinguistics theories. A study of monolingual English speakers demonstrated that referent’s salience and discourse factors might impact referring expression choice between noun phrases and pronouns. Participants demonstrated a higher production of pronouns when the referent expression was animate rather than inanimate and a preference for noun phrases when the referent was the second noun phrase of the referent’s context sentence (Fukumura & Van Gompel, 2011). In addition, an investigation with Hispanic bilinguals, whose L2 is English, demonstrated, in general, a greater preference for pronouns rather than noun phrases in referring expressions even in semantically ambiguous environments (Contemori & Dussias, 2016). The current study tested if monolinguals and bilinguals presented differences or similarities in referring expression production when the referent was manipulated for animacy and positioning. Using a constraint completion method, two groups (one English monolingual and one Spanish/English bilingual) were tested for pronoun and noun phrase frequency when producing referring expressions. The results demonstrated that both groups have a similar production pattern of referring expression choice and are sensitive to animacy and positioning of the referent. Furthermore, there was a statistically significant higher production of pronouns when the referent was animate. In addition, when the referent was the second noun phrase in the context sentence, the participants of both groups presented a tendency for noun phrase repetition. Thus, this paper suggests that bilinguals do not produce more pronouns in comparison with monolinguals when salience and positioning are controlled; instead, the referring expression production of pronouns and noun phrases is equivalent to that of monolinguals.^

Subject Area

Bilingual education|Linguistics|Psychology

Recommended Citation

Borges, Adonis de Carvalho, "The Impact of Animacy and Positioning on the Production of Second Language Referring Expressions" (2018). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10816705.
https://digitalcommons.utep.edu/dissertations/AAI10816705

Share

COinS