The Influence of Language Exposure on Lexical and Syntactic Language Processing

Tracy Love, Edwin Maas, David Swinney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Previous literature has argued that proficient bilingual speakers often demonstrate monolingual-equivalent structural processing of language (e.g., the processing of structural ambiguities; Frenck-Mestre, 2002). In this paper, we explore this thesis further via on-line examination of the processing of syntactically complex structures with three populations: those who classify as monolingual native English speaker (MNES), those who classify as non-native English speakers (NNES), and those who classify as bilingual native English speakers (BNES). On-line measures of processing of object-relative constructions demonstrated that both NNES and BNES have different patterns of performance as compared to MNES. Further, NNES and BNES speakers perform differently from one another in such processing. The study also examines the activation of lexical information in biasing contexts, and suggests that different processes are at work in the different type of bilinguals examined here. The nature of these differences and the implications for developing sensitive models of on-line language comprehension are developed and discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)204-216
Number of pages13
JournalExperimental Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Bilingual
  • On-line
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Sentence comprehension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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