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The impact of cross-language phonological overlap on bilingual and monolingual toddlers’ word recognition

  • KATIE VON HOLZEN (a1) (a2) (a3), CHRISTOPHER T. FENNELL (a4) and NIVEDITA MANI (a3)

Abstract

We examined how L2 exposure early in life modulates toddler word recognition by comparing German–English bilingual and German monolingual toddlers’ recognition of words that overlapped to differing degrees, measured by number of phonological features changed, between English and German (e.g., identical, 1-feature change, 2-feature change, 3-feature change, no overlap). Recognition in English was modulated by language background (bilinguals vs. monolinguals) and by the amount of phonological overlap that English words shared with their L1 German translations. L1 word recognition remained unchanged across conditions between monolingual and bilingual toddlers, showing no effect of learning an L2 on L1 word recognition in bilingual toddlers. Furthermore, bilingual toddlers who had a later age of L2 acquisition had better recognition of words in English than those toddlers who acquired English at an earlier age. The results suggest an important role for L1 phonological experience on L2 word recognition in early bilingual word recognition.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Dr. Katie Von Holzen, Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, University of Maryland, Samuel J. LeFrak Hall, 7251 Preinkert Dr., College Park, MD 20742katie.m.vonholzen@gmail.com

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This work was funded by the German Initiative of Excellence (Institutional Strategy). During data analyses and manuscript preparation, the first author was additionally funded by an ANR-13-BSH2-0004 grant and by training grant DC-00046 from the National Institute of Deafness and Communicative Disorders of the National Institutes of Health. The authors would like to acknowledge Sandrien Van Ommen and Cory Bonn for helpful discussions of model structure and interpretation. The authors thank the preschool staff members for their assistance, especially in testing. A special thank you is directed to all of the toddlers and their parents who participated in this study.

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References

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