General programme, activity sheet

Saturday 20 September, 2014 11:30 to 12:30 Invited Lecture
Lecture III: Bilingual Spanish: Some Aspects of Syntatic Processing
Speaker: Itziar Laka, University of the Basque Country

Are all aspects of the grammar of a a second language equally easy to learn? What does it depend on? There are thousands of people in the world trying to learn Spanish as a second language, and language learning throughout life is increasingly important in our global society. However, it is well known that second language learners often have a difficulties achieving high proficiency and retaining what they learn. Understanding the neural and cognitive bases of second language learning is thus a pressing task, because the more we know about it the better prepared we will be to meet this research and societal challenge. In this talk I will present and discuss experimental work on a variety of topics related to syntactic processing in Spanish bilinguals that bear on this general question. I will focus on Spanish/Basque bilingualism, a case that involves maximally diverging properties in the languages of the bilingual (VO/OV, nominative/ergative, subject agreement/pluripersonal agreement). I will discuss how L1 and L2 Spanish bilinguals process certain aspects of Basque and Spanish syntax. The topics to include segmentation in artifical languages, sentence word order preferences, subject/object asymmetries in relative clauses, and inflectional morphology (case, agreement, clitics). The pìcture that emerges from this research is that certain aspects of grammar, particularly those involving inflectional morphology do reveal differences between native and non-native speakers even at high proficiency levels and early ages of acquisition, while other aspects of language related to sentence word order preferences do not. In some cases, L1 and L2 Spanish bilinguals display similar syntactic processing preferences, but elicit different eletrophisyiological components while deploying them, indicating disctinct neural underpinnings are at play to achieve the same processing goal.

Other activities in 
11:00 h. to 11:30 h.Coffee break

12:30 h. to 13:00 h.Closing ceremony

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