Hostname: page-component-7d684dbfc8-jr2wd Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-09-24T08:14:24.729Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "corePageComponentGetUserInfoFromSharedSession": true, "coreDisableEcommerce": false, "coreDisableSocialShare": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForArticlePurchase": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForBookPurchase": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForElementPurchase": false, "coreUseNewShare": true, "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

L2 effects on L1 event conceptualization*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 July 2010

Centre for Research on Bilingualism, Stockholm University
Department of Linguistics, Ohio University
Address for correspondence: Emanuel Bylund, Centre for Research on Bilingualism, Stockholm University, SE – 106 91 Stockholm,


The finding that speakers of aspect languages encode event endpoints to a lesser extent than do speakers of non-aspect languages has led to the hypothesis that there is a relationship between grammatical aspect and event conceptualization (e.g., von Stutterheim and Nüse, 2003). The present study concerns L1 event conceptualization in 40 L1 Spanish – L2 Swedish bilinguals (all near-native speakers of Swedish). Spanish and Swedish differ as regards grammatical aspect: whereas Swedish lacks this grammatical category, Spanish conveys aspect through verbal morphology and periphrasis. The principal aim of the study was to explore the relationship between productive event conceptualization patterns and receptive decoding proficiency related to aspectual contrasts. The participants were asked to provide oral L1 Spanish descriptions of video clips projecting motion events with different degrees of endpoint orientation (see von Stutterheim, 2003). In addition, they took a grammaticality judgment test concerning verb and gender agreement, verbal clitics and aspectual contrasts. Compared with baseline data from monolingual Spanish speakers, the results on endpoint encoding show that the bilinguals mention the endpoints of motion events to a higher degree than the Spanish control group does. Moreover, it was shown that the weaker the bilinguals' discrimination of aspectual errors on the grammaticality judgment test, the more prone they were to encoding endpoints. This result consequently furthers the hypothesis about the interconnectedness between grammatical aspect and event conceptualization. The results were further interpreted as indicating that the bilinguals are influenced by the Swedish-like tendency to attend to the boundedness rather than the ongoingness of events.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



The data presented in the current study were collected through the support of the Swedish Graduate School in Romance Languages (FoRom), the Swedish Research Council (grant no. 421-2004-1975, project: “First Language Attrition in Advanced Second Language Speakers”; N. Abrahamsson, K. Hyltenstam, E. Bylund and K. Stölten) and the Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education (Project: “Verbal Interaction Studies in Santiago and Stockholm”; L. Fant and A. Harvey). A preliminary version of this paper was presented by the authors at the 6th International Symposium on Bilingualism, Hamburg, June 1 2007. The authors wish to thank Panos Athanasopoulos, Monique Flecken and Christiane von Stutterheim for comments on an earlier version of this paper; Christiane von Stutterheim, Barbara Schmiedtová and Mary Carroll for sharing their video clips; Alejandra Donoso for lending her voice and Katrin Stölten and the staff at the phonetics laboratory at Stockholm University for their help in recording the grammaticality judgment sentences; Alejandra Donoso and Carlos Henderson for their constructive comments on previous versions of the grammaticality judgment test. Needless to say, none of these people can be held responsible for any remaining errors or inconsistencies, or for the interpretation of the results.


Abrahamsson, N. & Hyltenstam, K. (2009). Age of acquisition and nativelikeness in a second language: Listener perception vs. linguistic scrutiny. Language Learning, 59, 249306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Andersen, R. (1982). Determining the linguistic attributes of language attrition. In Lambert, R. & Freed, B. (eds.), The loss of language skills, pp. 83117. Rowley: Newbury House Publishers.Google Scholar
Athanasopoulos, P. (2007). Interaction between grammatical categories and cognition in bilinguals: The role of proficiency, cultural immersion, and language of instruction. Language and Cognitive Processes, 22, 689699.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Athanasopoulos, P. (2009). Cognitive representation of colour in bilinguals: The case of Greek blues. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 12, 8395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Berman, R. & Slobin, D. (eds.) (1994). Relating events in narrative. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
de Bot, K. & Clyne, M. (1994). A 16-year longitudinal study of language attrition in Dutch immigrants in Australia. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 15 (1), 1728.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
de Bot, K., Gommans, P. & Rossing, C. (1991). L1 loss in an L2 environment: Dutch immigrants in France. In Seliger, H. & Vago, R. (eds.), First language attrition, pp. 8798. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brown, A. & Gullberg, M. (2008). Bidirectional crosslinguistic influence in L1–L2 encoding of Manner in speech and gesture: A study of Japanese speakers of English. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 30, 225251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bylund, E. (2008). Procesos de conceptualización de eventos en español y en sueco: diferencias translingüísticas. Revue Romane, 43, 124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bylund, E. (2009a). Effects of age of L2 acquisition on L1 event conceptualization patterns. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 12, 305322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bylund, E. (2009b). Maturational constraints and first language attrition. Language Learning, 59, 687715.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Carroll, M. (ms). Phasen ET: Goal oriented motion events. Technical description of the video clips. University of Heidelberg.Google Scholar
Carroll, M. & von Stutterheim, C. (2003). Typology and information organisation perspective taking and language-specific effects in the construal of events. In Ramat, A. (ed.), Typology and second language acquisition, pp. 365402. Berlin: De Gruyter.Google Scholar
Carroll, M., von Stutterheim, C. & Nüse, R. (2004). The language and thought debate: A psycholinguistic approach. In Habel, C. & Pechmann, T. (eds.), Multidisciplinary approaches to language production, pp. 183218. Berlin: De Gruyter.Google Scholar
Comrie, B. (1976). Aspect. An introduction to the study of verbal aspect and related problems. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Fauconnier, G. (1985). Mental spaces: Aspects of meaning construction in natural language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Fillmore, C. (1988). The mechanisms of “Construction Grammar”. Proceedings of the 17th Annual Meeting of the Berkley Linguistic Society, pp. 3555. Berkeley, CA: University of California, Berkeley.Google Scholar
Geeraerts, D. & Cuyckens, H. (2007). Introducing cognitive linguistics. In Geeraerts, D. & Cuyckens, H. (eds), The Oxford handbook of cognitive linguistics, pp. 121. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Gürel, A. (2004). Selectivity in L2-induced L1 attrition: A psycholinguistic account. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 17, 5378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hakuta, K. & D'Andrea, D. (1992). Some properties of bilingual maintenance and loss in Mexican background high-school students. Applied Linguistics, 13 (2), 7299.Google Scholar
Havu, J. (1998). La constitución temporal del sintagma verbal en el español moderno. Helsinki: Academia Scientiarum Fennica.Google Scholar
Hohenstein, J., Eisenberg, A. & Naigles, L. (2006). Is he floating across or crossing afloat? Cross-influence of L1 and L2 in Spanish–English bilingual adults. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 9, 249261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jarvis, S. (2007). Theoretical and methodological issues in the investigation of conceptual transfer. Vigo International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 4, 4371.Google Scholar
Jarvis, S. & Pavlenko, A. (2008). Crosslinguistic influence in language and cognition. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Kaufman, D. & Aronoff, M. (1991). Morphological disintegration and reconstruction in first language attrition. In Seliger, H. & Vago, R. (eds.), First language attrition, pp. 175188. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Klein, W. (1994). Time in language. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
Lakoff, G. & Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Langacker, R. (1987). Foundations of cognitive grammar. Vol 1. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
Langacker, R. (2000). Grammar and conceptualization. Berlin: De GruyterGoogle Scholar
Langacker, R. (2008). Cognitive grammar: A basic introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
de Leeuw, E., Schmid, M. & Mennen, I. (2010). The effects of contact on native language pronunciation in an L2 migrant setting. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 13, 3340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Levelt, W. (1989). Speaking. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Lucy, J. (1992). Grammatical categories and cognition: A case study of the linguistic relativity hypothesis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lucy, J. (1996). The scope of linguistic relativity: An analysis and review of empirical research. In Gumperz, J. & Levinson, S. (eds.), Rethinking linguistic relativity, pp. 3769. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Major, R. (1993). Sociolinguistic factors in loss and acquisition of phonology. In Hyltenstam, K. & Viberg, Å. (eds.), Progression and regression in language: Sociocultural, neuropsychological and linguistic perspectives, pp. 436478. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Negueruela, E., Lantolf, J., Rehn Jordan, S. & Gelabert, J. (2004). The “private function” of gesture in second language speaking activity: A study of motion verbs and gesturing in English and Spanish. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 14 (1), 113147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Odlin, T. (2008). Conceptual transfer and meaning extensions. In Robinson, P. & Ellis, N. C. (eds.), Handbook of cognitive linguistics and second language acquisition, pp. 306340. London: RoutledgeGoogle Scholar
Paradis, M. (2007). L1 attrition features predicted by a neurolinguistic theory of bilingualism. In Köpke, B., Schmid, M., Keijzer, M. & Dostert, S. (eds.), Language attrition: Theoretical perspectives, pp. 121133. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pavlenko, A. & Jarvis, S. (2002). Bidirectional transfer. Applied Linguistics, 23, 190214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Radden, G. & Dirven, R. (2007). Cognitive English grammar. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schmid, M. (2002). Language attrition, maintenance and use. The case of German Jews in Anglophone countries. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schmiedtová, B. (in press). The development of the expression of simultaneity in L2 Czech: A special focus on (very) advanced learners. In Haberzettl, S. (ed.), The end state in SLA. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
Schmiedtová, B. & Flecken, M. (2008). Aspectual concepts across languages: Some considerations for second language learning. In Knop, S. de (ed.), Pedagogical Grammar, pp. 357384. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
Sebastián, E. & Slobin, D. (1994). The development of linguistic forms: Spanish. In Berman, R. & Slobin, D. (eds.), Relating events in narrative, pp. 239284. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
Sharwood Smith, M. & van Buren, P. (1991). First language attrition and the parameter setting model. In Seliger, H. & Vago, R. (eds.), First language attrition, pp. 1730. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Slobin, D. (1991). Learning to think for speaking: Native language, cognition, and rhetorical style. Pragmatics, 1, 725.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Slobin, D. (1993). Adult language acquisition: A view from child language study. In Perdue, C. (ed.), Adult language acquisition: Cross-linguistic perspectives, pp. 239252. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Slobin, D. (1996). From “thought and language” to “thinking for speaking”. In Gumperz, J. & Levinson, S. (eds.), Rethinking linguistic relativity, pp. 7096. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
von Stutterheim, C. (2003). Linguistic structure and information organisation: The case of very advanced learners. In Foster-Cohen, S. & Pekarek Doehler, S. (eds.), EuroSLA Yearbook, pp. 183206. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
von Stutterheim, C. & Klein, W. (2002). Quaestio and L-perspectivation. In Graumann, C. & Kallmeyer, W. (eds.), Perspective and perspectivation in discourse, pp. 5988. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
von Stutterheim, C. & Nüse, R. (2003). Processes of conceptualization in language production: Language-specific perspectives and event construal. Linguistics, 41 (5), 851881.Google Scholar
von Stutterheim, C., Nüse, R. & Murcia-Serra, J. (2002). Cross-linguistic differences in the conceptualisation of events. In Hasselgård, H., Johansson, S., Behrens, B. & Fabricius-Hansen, C. (eds.), Information structure in a cross-linguistic perspective, pp. 179198. Amsterdam: Rodopi.Google Scholar
Talmy, L. (2000). Toward a cognitive semantics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Yeni-Komshian, G., Flege, J. & Liu, S. (2000). Pronunciation proficiency in the first and second languages of Korean–English bilinguals. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 3 (2), 131149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar