Do non-native languages have an effect on word order processing in first language Turkish?

Cedden, Gülay
Aims and Objectives/Purpose/Research Questions: Existing studies on sentence processing in bi-/multilinguals are typically centred on the first language (L1) influence on second language sentence processing. However, there is almost no evidence of influence in the other direction. The aim of this study is to find out whether being mono-, bi-, tri- or plurilingual has an effect on reading times (RTs) in the native language. To this end, Turkish native speakers' RTs are measured when processing Turkish canonical subject-object-verb sentences, subject-verb-object (SVO) sentences where constituents move to post-verbal positions and SVO-ki sentences where post-verbal constituents are base generated. Design/Methodology/Approach: A non-cumulative self-paced reading task is used in order to measure the RTs of a sentence. The area of interest contains (i) the critical verb, (ii) the verb of the complement clause and (iii) the argument or adjunct of the complement clause (32 sentences + 12 filler sentences). All elements are matched according to their frequency of occurrence and their syllable structure. Data and Analysis: Analyses of variance are performed on RTs of the area of interest. Findings/Conclusions: One of the main findings in this study is that all three sentence types are processed significantly slower by the monolingual group than by the bi- and multilingual groups. We infer that non-native languages have a positive effect on processing the word order in the L1, which might lead to a faster processing in the three sentence types. The findings are discussed in terms of working memory and the "gap-driven strategy".