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The roles of language mode and dominance in French–German bilinguals’ motion event descriptions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 May 2019

Ladina Stocker*
University of Fribourg
Raphael Berthele
University of Fribourg
Address for correspondence: Ladina Stocker, Email:


Juggling with structurally and semantically different language systems leads to constructions that differ from the typical patterns in a language. Typical patterns in the domain of motion are characterized by more verbs encoding path in French; and more verbs encoding the manner of motion in German. An increase of manner verbs in French, for instance, can be ascribed to an influence from German. The extent of typical or reversed patterns depends on interrelated factors such as speaker-related idiosyncrasies, language dominance configurations, and – arguably – the degree of language activation. Drawing on data from 154 French–German bilinguals who described motion events in different language modes, this paper combines interrelated questions on the role of language dominance, language mode manipulation and how these factors interact. Quantitative analyses on the use of motion verbs do not show the expected effects. The null results are discussed by comparing preceding studies showing contradictory findings.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2019

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