A disadvantage in bilingual sentence production modulated by syntactic frequency and similarity across languages


  • Runnqvist Elin
  • Gollan Tamar
  • Costa Albert
  • Ferreira Victor


  • Cross-language interactivity
  • Frequency effects
  • Bilingual disadvantage
  • Sentence production

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Bilingual speakers access individual words less fluently, quickly, and accurately than monolinguals, particularly when accessing low-frequency words. Here we examined whether the bilingual speech production disadvantage would (a) extend to full sentences above and beyond single word retrieval and whether it would be modulated by (b) structural frequency and (c) syntactic properties of the bilingual speakers' other language. English monolinguals, Spanish–English bilinguals and Mandarin–English bilinguals were tested in a sentence production task conducted exclusively in English. Response times were modulated by bilingualism, structural frequency, and structural similarity across the bilingual speakers' two languages. These results refine our knowledge regarding the scope of the bilingual disadvantage, demonstrate that frequency effects apply to syntactic structures, and also suggest that syntax is partially shared across bilinguals' two languages.

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