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


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.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Gloria Chamorro University of Kent Department of English Language and Linguistics Rutherford College Canterbury CT2 7NX.
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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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Bilingualism: Language and Cognition
  • ISSN: 1366-7289
  • EISSN: 1469-1841
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