Attrition is posited to be a universal phenomenon among bilinguals (Schmid & Köpke), with attrition and acquisition viewed as parallel processes governed by similar mechanisms (e.g., Kubota, 2019; Opitz, 2011; Schmid & Köpke, 2017, 2019; Sharwood Smith, 2001, inter alia). While the scope of attrition has been defined more narrowly elsewhere (see Schmid & Köpke, 2017), we use the term to refer to any change in an existing language after exposure to a novel language. We are interested in the variables that modulate attrition (linguistic and extralinguistic alike, with special attention given to context-related variables and individual differences) and the question of whether observed attrition effects reflect a decrease in L1 processing efficiency and co-activation, structural change, or both.
Research & Publications Heading link
Project: L1 attrition of perception and production of illusory vowels
This study investigates L1 modification in the perception and production of illusory vowels by L1 Brazilian Portuguese (BP)/L2 English speakers. (C)VC syllables with a coda stop consonant violate syllabic structure constraints in BP, but are licit in English. As a result, BP speakers perceive an illusory /i/ between illicit consonant clusters and produce an epenthesized /i/ after coda stop consonants in word-medial and final position. Existing perceptual attrition studies indicate that perception of segmental phenomena is vulnerable to attrition while perception of suprasegmental phenomena may not be. To determine the degree of the illusory effect due to phonotactics, we implement vowel identification and ABX perception tasks as well as concatenation and semi-spontaneous production tasks. Thus far, the L1 perception data have shown a robust effect of L2 phonotactic influence.
- Cabrelli, J., Luque, A., & Finestrat, I. L1 Brazilian Portuguese phonotactic restructuring as a result of L2 English contact. Journal of Phonetics, 73, 55-69.
Project: Changes in the L2 English speech of L1 Japanese returnees
Investigators: Jennifer Cabrelli, Neal Snape (Gunma Prefectural Women’s University), Maki Kubota (UiT, The Arctic University of Norway), Tanja Kupisch (University of Konstanz), Tim Laméris (Cambridge University)
Returnees are children who have spent a period of prolonged naturalistic immersion in an L2 environment and returned to their L1 environment. This bilingual scenario allows us to examine the role of input and interaction in the maintenance and continued development of an L2. In this study, we use an accent rating task to examine changes to the global accent of L1 Japanese/L2 (American) English bilinguals across five time points which span the first three years upon return to Japan.
L3 effects on the L1 vs. L2
Project: The Differential Stability Hypothesis
Investigators: Jennifer Cabrelli, Alison Michaux
The Differential Stability Hypothesis (DSH, Cabrelli Amaro, 2017) accepts the notion of a critical period for optimal acquisition and posits that adult L2 systems, even when they appear target-like, are representationally different than L1 systems. However, unlike previous investigations of a critical period that center around ultimate attainment in the L2, the DSH defines the critical period in terms of differential stability of the grammar, predicting that a system acquired in adulthood should be more vulnerable to influence from a third language than a system acquired in childhood. Currently, we are testing the descriptive and explanatory adequacies of strong and weak versions of the hypothesis across the domains of phonology and morphosyntax. We have initiated a longitudinal study of multiple phonological and morphosyntactic phenomena that present differently in Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese to determine whether the constitution of these two types of systems is fundamentally different, or if domain general mechanisms such as inhibitory control might explain potential permeability. Longitudinal observation crucially allows for the control of individual variation, such that participants act as their own encapsulated control.
- Cabrelli, J. (in press). Attrition in multilingualism. In Cabrelli, J., Chaouch-Orozco, A., González Alonso, J., Puig-Mayenco, E., Pereira Soares, S. M. & Rothman, J. The Cambridge handbook of third language acquisition. Cambridge University Press.
- Cabrelli Amaro, J. (2017). Regressive transfer in L3 syntactic development. In A. Hahn & T. Angelovska (Eds.), L3 syntactic transfer: Models, new developments and implications (pp. 173-194). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
- Cabrelli Amaro, J. (2017). Testing the Phonological Permeability Hypothesis: Differential L3 influence on L1 and L2 phonological systems. International Journal of Bilingualism, 21, 698-717.
- Cabrelli Amaro, J. (2013). The Phonological Permeability Hypothesis: Measuring regressive L3 influence to test L1 and L2 phonological representations (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Florida.
- Cabrelli Amaro, J. & Rothman, J. (2010). L3 acquisition and phonological permeability: A new test case for debates on the mental representation of non-native phonological systems. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Teaching, IRAL, 48(2/3), 273-294.