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What is the source of L1 attrition? The effect of recent L1 re-exposure on Spanish speakers under L1 attrition*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 April 2015

University of Kent
University of Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh
Address for correspondence: Gloria Chamorro University of KentDepartment of English Language and Linguistics RutherfordCollege CanterburyCT2 7NX.


The recent hypothesis that L1 attrition affects the ability to process interface structures but not knowledge representations (Sorace, 2011) is tested by investigating the effects of recent L1 re-exposure on antecedent preferences for Spanish pronominal subjects, using offline judgements and online eye-tracking measures. Participants included a group of native Spanish speakers experiencing L1 attrition (‘attriters’), a second group of attriters exposed exclusively to Spanish before they were tested (‘re-exposed’), and a control group of Spanish monolinguals. The judgement data shows no significant differences between the groups. Moreover, the monolingual and re-exposed groups are not significantly different from each other in the eye-tracking data. The results of this novel manipulation indicate that attrition effects decrease due to L1 re-exposure, and that bilinguals are sensitive to input changes. Taken together, the findings suggest that attrition affects online sensitivity with interface structures rather than causing a permanent change in speakers’ L1 knowledge representations.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

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This study was partly supported by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. Special thanks to all the participants who took part in the study.


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