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date: 23 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Bilinguals live in two linguistic worlds. Given the different demands of each language, one might think that each system functions independently. However, bilinguals do not behave like two monolingual speaker/listeners housed in a single brain. Instead, the evidence to date suggests that the characteristics of bilingual language processing may appear to be “in between” the individual's two codes. Studies in bilingual sentence processing have focused on phenomena related to how semantic or syntactic representations are built. This article reviews data consistent with the view of interdependence between the two languages of the bilingual, using evidence from the literature on bilingual sentence processing. Studies of both semantic processing and syntactic processing show that bilinguals almost always use a unitary mechanism which accesses two separately represented grammars. The study of bilingual sentence processing can also offer insights into our understanding of human language processing in general, because bilinguals offer opportunities to examine sentence processing effects in within-participant designs, impossible to carry out with monolinguals. In addition to the above, this article explores parsing, the age of language acquisition, and language proficiency.

Keywords: bilinguals, sentence processing, semantic processing, syntactic processing, parsing, language acquisition, language proficiency

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