An intercomprehension study of multilingual Swedish L1 speakers reading and decoding words in text in Italian, an unknown language

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Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to investigate the intercomprehension processes of multilingual Swedish L1 speakers while reading and decoding text in Italian, an unknown language. The three Swedish L1 participants in the present case study had English as L2 and respectively French, Spanish and German as L3. The participants read two texts in Italian, a language unknown to them, and using think-aloud protocols in combination with stimulated recalls, they verbalized their thoughts while decoding the texts. The results of both qualitative and quantitative analysis indicate that all the previously acquired languages involved in the study (Swedish, English, German, French and Spanish) were activated and used to infer the meaning of the words in the texts. The findings also suggest that, regarding the success rate of the inferences, French, Spanish, English and Swedish were nearly equally helpful for comprehension. Thus, the results seem to indicate that comprehension of written Italian, a Romance language, can be aided not only by other Romance languages, but also Germanic languages. Further, the results support the view of non-selective access to the mental lexicon of multilinguals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-77
JournalLingua
Volume204
Early online date2017 Nov 27
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Specific Languages

Keywords

  • Intercomprehension
  • Lexical inferencing
  • Multilingualism

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