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Do bilinguals generalize estar more than monolinguals and what is the role of conceptual transfer?

  • Adamou, Evangelia
  • De Pascale, Stefano
  • García-Márkina, Yekaterina
  • Padure, Cristian
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2019
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Aims and Objectives/Purpose/Research Questions: Among the questions that remain open is whether bilingualism leads to simplification of alternatives in language in order to reduce cognitive load. This hypothesis has been supported by evidence that bilinguals generalize the Spanish copula estar 'to be' faster than monolinguals. Yet, other studies found no such clear trend. While conceptual transfer could account for the conflicting evidence in the literature, its role has not been demonstrated yet. Our study aims to fill this gap by testing simplification in Spanish copula choice among bilinguals and, in particular, the role of transfer.Design/Methodology/Approach: To enhance comparability with previous studies, we used the contextualized copula choice task designed by Geeslin and Guijarro-Fuentes (2008), comprising 28 sentences.Data and Analysis: 60 Romani-Spanish bilinguals from Mexico responded to the questionnaire in both Spanish and Romani. A control group of 62 Mexican Spanish monolinguals responded in Spanish. We constructed generalized linear mixed-effects models to analyse the results.Findings/Conclusions: Analysis of the results reveals greater extension of estar among bilinguals for individual-level predicates as well as for traits not susceptible to change.

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