Cross-Linguistic Influence in Early Word Learning

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


It has often been the presumption that reverse cross-linguistic influence requires an advanced fluency in the second language. This assumption has led to much of the research focusing on the impact of the speaker’s existing languages towards their second or third language. Our mental lexicons are, however, in a constant state of change through learning, forgetting, and consolidation, and we should hence consider the study of language loss as an integral part of language acquisition (Sharwood Smith, 1989). If we want to fully understand the process of language loss, we should start from the early stages of language acquisition. One example of an early change is from Bice and Kroll (2015), who found an emerging cognate effect already at the early changes of L2 learning.In the present experiment the participants were taught an artificial language in which a portion of the words do not conveniently map onto the participants’ native language (English). The purpose of the study was to find whether limited, but observable, automatized effects could be observed in the learner’s mother tongue at the very early stage of language acquisition.A paired-associate learning task was used to teach the form-meaning mappings to the participants. All presented forms in the artificial language were phonotactically well-formed in Finnish. The meanings were all concrete nouns and were borrowed from the participants’ native language.The main dependent measure in the study was the magnitude of the priming effect from the newly acquired associates in the artificial language, measured in the participant’s native language. These measures were compared to the pre-learning baseline. Post-learning data was collected both through an immediate post-test, as well as a delayed post-test after a single-night consolidation period.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics


  • attrition, lexicon, conceptual knowledge
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jun 23
Publication categoryResearch
Eventthe 12th International Symposium on Bilingualism - University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
Duration: 2018 Jun 232018 Nov 28
Conference number: 12


Conferencethe 12th International Symposium on Bilingualism
Abbreviated titleISB12
Internet address