How does bilingualism affect utterance production and interpretation?

Recent research has been trying to identify a possible "neural signature" of bilingualism (e.g. Kovelman et al. 2008; Jasinska and Pettito 2013). Another line of research has been investigating the cognitive effects of bilingualism (Bialystok 2012; Boroditsky 2011; Kovacs 2012). There is, however, relatively little research on how bilingualism affects utterance production and interpretation (e.g. Antoniou et al. 2014; Fiestas et al. 2005; Meijer and Fox Tree 2003).

This presentation aims to explore the possibility of a difference in utterance production and interpretation resulting from a support or compensation mechanism specific to bilingualism. The discussion is based on the analysis of a dataset that comprises the results of several problem-solving (language production and comprehension) tasks performed by bilinguals whose L1 is English, bilinguals whose L1 is other than English and monolingual English speakers (control group). Their performance is compared in the following tasks:

  • story writing using selected lexical items,
  • indirect reporting,
  • indirect utterance interpretation,
  • brief summary of discourse segment.