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Late Japanese Bilinguals’ Novel Verb Construal*



Languages differ in how they encode events. Some languages (e.g., English) encode manner of motion (e.g., hop) in verbs while others (e.g., Spanish) encode the path of motion (e.g., descender-descend) (Talmy, 1985). This study examines verb construal in Japanese bilingual adults (L1-Japanese, L2-English). Maguire, Hirsh-Pasek, Golinkoff, Imai, Haryu, Vanegas, Okada, Pulverman and Sanchez-Davis (2010) suggest that although Japanese is traditionally considered a path language, manner plays an important role in Japanese verbs. Bilinguals completed two verb construal tasks (one in English; one in Japanese). Results showed that the Japanese bilinguals construed a novel verb as encoding manner for English and chose path for Japanese. This differs from Maguire et al. (2010) who found that Japanese monolinguals construed a novel verb as encoding manner. Bilinguals may find it useful to highlight differences between Japanese and English to keep the two languages distinct. Bilingual verb construal may be influenced by the linguistic typology of bilinguals’ L1 and L2.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Haruka Konishi, University of Delaware Infant Language Project, School of Education, Willard Hall Education Building, Room 224 Newark, DE, 19716


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This research was funded by an NSF grant awarded jointly to the third and fifth authors: SBR9615391. Special thanks to three anonymous reviewers for providing comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript. We thank the numerous undergraduate and graduate students at the Temple University Infant Laboratory and the University of Delaware Infant Language Project for their assistance in data coding and entry. Finally, we would like to express our gratitude to all of the participants that contributed to this study.



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Late Japanese Bilinguals’ Novel Verb Construal*



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