Syntactic co-activation in natural reading

Vaughan-Evans, Awel, Liversedge, Simon Paul orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8579-8546, Fitzsimmons, Gemma and Jones, Manon W. (2020) Syntactic co-activation in natural reading. Visual Cognition, 28 (10). pp. 541-556. ISSN 1350-6285

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Recent evidence suggests that bilingual individuals co-activate the syntactic rules of both languages. However, the extent to which syntactic co-activation occurs during natural reading is currently unknown. Here, we measured the eye movements of Welsh-English bilinguals as they read English sentences. We also tested a control group of English monolinguals. Target words were manipulated to create nonwords that were consistent or inconsistent with the rules of Welsh soft mutation (a morphosyntactic process that alters the initial consonant of words). Nonwords were only visible in parafoveal preview, and a direct fixation triggered the presentation of the normal English word. Linear mixed effects analyses revealed a robust parafoveal preview benefit for identity previews (television) compared with mutated (delevision) and aberrant previews (belevision), and a parafoveal-on-foveal effect in our bilingual, but not our monolingual, sample. Bilingual readers’ sentence reanalysis was affected by the implicit Welsh mutation, but only in contexts that would elicit a mutation in Welsh. Our findings suggest that morphosyntactic rules are co-activated during natural reading, however further investigations are needed to evaluate the robustness of this effect.

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