A bilingual advantage in controlling language interference during sentence comprehension
journal contributionposted on 2023-07-26, 13:14 authored by Roberto Filippi, Robert Leech, Michael S. C. Thomas, David W. Green, Frederic Dick
This study compared the comprehension of syntactically simple with more complex sentences in Italian–English adult bilinguals and monolingual controls in the presence or absence of sentence-level interference. The task was to identify the agent of the sentence and we primarily examined the accuracy of response. The target sentence was signalled by the gender of the speaker, either a male or a female, and this varied over trials, where the target was spoken in a male voice the distractor was spoken in a female voice and vice versa. In contrast to other work showing a bilingual disadvantage in sentence comprehension under conditions of noise, we show that in this task, where voice permits selection of the target, adult bilingual speakers are in fact better able than their monolingual Italian peers to resist sentence-level interference when comprehension demands are high. Within bilingual speakers we also found that degree of proficiency in English correlated with the ability to resist interference for complex sentences both when the target and distractor were in Italian and when the target was in English and the distractor in Italian.
Publication titleBilingualism: Language and Cognition
PublisherCambridge University Press
- Published version