Learners' implicit assumptions about syntactic frames in new L3 words: The role of cognates, typological proximity, and L2 status

Christopher J. Hall, Denise Newbrand, Peter M Ecke, Ulrike Sperr, Vanessa Marchand, Lisa Hayes

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Learners of third language (L3) German and L3 French studied unfamiliar verbs that were cognate with first language (L1) Spanish equivalents, second language (L2) English equivalents, or neither. We examined whether learners would assume that the verbs shared syntactic frames with cognate forms in the typologically closer language. In immediate tests, verbs were preferentially judged grammatical in cognate frames, with verbs in typologically closer French yielding a stronger effect for Spanish frames than German verbs did for English frames. After a week, the effect had disappeared for German but was maintained for French. Noncognates were judged more grammatical in the L2 frame in both experiments. The results suggest that form similarity, typological proximity, and L2 status can jointly affect preliminary assumptions about new words' grammatical properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-202
Number of pages50
JournalLanguage Learning
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009



  • Cognate vocabulary
  • Crosslinguistic influence
  • Foreign language effect
  • L2 effect
  • L3 acquisition
  • Multilingual lexicon
  • Parasitic Model
  • Psychotypology
  • Syntactic frame
  • Vocabulary learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics

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