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Grounded cognition: Comparing Language × Space interactions in first language and second language


The experiential traces account claims that language comprehension in one's first language (L1) is based on the reactivation of experiential traces that stem from experiencing the corresponding objects, states, or events. However, it remains unclear to what extent this is transferable to second language (L2) comprehension. In the present study, we compared German L1 speakers with German L2 speakers whose L1 uses similar or different spatial terms as German. In an adaptation of the Stroop paradigm, participants were instructed to respond to the font color of German spatial prepositions (e.g., auf “on,” über “above,” and unter “under/below”) by either an upward or a downward hand movement, resulting in compatible or incompatible responses. We found significant compatibility effects for all speakers, but also clear differences between speakers of different L1s. The results thereby support the assumption that experiential traces built during L1 usage play an important role in L2 processing.

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ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE Jessica Strozyk, Department of Psychology, University of Tübingen, Schleichstrasse 4, 72076, Tübingen, Germany. E-mail:
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Applied Psycholinguistics
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