Crosslinguistic Influence of Loanwords on Japanese Particle Processing: Evidence from Japanese Language Learners

Ryosuke Yamamoto, Purdue University


Studies have proposed that the spreading activation (SA) theory (Colins, & Loftus, 1975) can explain the nature of L1 and L2 predictive sentence processing (e.g., Kaan, 2014). Research on processing in L2 English has found that word information triggers learners' semantically-driven predictive sentence processing (e.g., Hopp, 2015); however, to the best of my knowledge, few studies have been conducted in L2 Japanese. Additionally, what triggers L2 predictive sentence processing is yet to be fully discovered. Research has demonstrated that L1 English learners of Japanese as a foreign language (JFL) show cognate-like effects when English-based loanwords are used as primes in a cross-linguistic priming experiment if these loanwords retain their original English phonology and semantics (e.g., Allen, & Conklin, 2013), which suggests the existence of inter-lingual SA effects when learners process these loanwords. The purpose of the present study is to investigate whether SA effects induced by a loanword in a sentence can also facilitate learners' predictive sentence processing. The present study investigated whether a loanword embedded in a sentence facilitates JFL learners' syntactic prediction. Twenty-six L1 English learners of JFL and eight native Japanese speakers participated in the study. In the experiment, they were presented with 20 fillers and 32 Japanese right-dislocated sentences ending with a noun followed by a postpositional particle. Among these 32 sentences, half of them had a loanword preceding a particle, whereas the other half had a non-loanword preceding a particle. At the end of each sentence, the subjects were asked to make an acceptability judgment, and reaction time (RT) was recorded for statistical analysis. The results indicated that loanwords had a statistically significant facilitative influence on predicting their adjacent postpositional particle in sentences. This was especially true for the locative particle ni and the comitative particle to. Although the loanword-induced cross-linguistic SA effects on particle processing were inhomogeneous, the study sufficiently supported the hypothesis that loanwords can facilitate learners' predictive processing of subsequent particles, simultaneously providing evidence for the existence of SA effects in L2-Japanese sentence processing.




Fukada, Purdue University.

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