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Interactions between formal distance and participant-related variables in receptive multilingualism

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Vanhove Jan, Berthele Raphael,
Project Mehrsprachigkeit und Lebensalter
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching
Volume (Issue) 55(1)
Page(s) 23 - 40
Title of proceedings International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching
DOI 10.1515/iral-2017-0007

Open Access

Type of Open Access Repository (Green Open Access)


AbstractRecognizing cognates in a related but unknown language (Lx) is of key importance in receptive multilingualism. Many studies have consequently investigated the impact of both item-related characteristics (most notably the cognates’ formal distance to their L1/L2 counterparts) and participant-related variables (e. g., the make-up of the participants’ linguistic repertoires) on Lx cognate recognition. However, little is known about how these two factors interact with one another. Using data from a lifespan study on Lx (Swedish) cognate recognition in German-speaking participants, we investigate how the effect of the Lx cognates’ formal distance to their L1/L2 counterparts varies as a function of the participants’ richness of linguistic experience and their ability to deal with abstract patterns flexibly (‘fluid intelligence’). We do so for both written and spoken stimuli. The results underscore that the relationship between formal distance and recognition in receptive multilingualism, and cross-linguistic influence more generally, may vary systematically as a function of participant-related variables.