Native Language Cognate Effects on Second Language Lexical Choice

ACL 2018

Native Language Cognate Effects on Second Language Lexical Choice

Jan 22, 2021
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Abstract: We present a computational analysis of cognate effects on the spontaneous linguistic productions of advanced non-native speakers. Introducing a large corpus of highly competent non-native English speakers, and using a set of care-fully selected lexical items, we show that the lexical choices of non-natives are affected by cognates in their native lan-guage. This effect is so powerful that we are able to reconstruct the phylogenetic language tree of the Indo-European language family solely from the frequencies of specific lexical items in the English of authors with various native lan-guages. We quantitatively analyze non-native lexical choice, highlighting cognate facilitation as one of the important phenomena shaping the language of non-native speakers. Authors: Ella Rabinovich, Yulia Tsvetkov, Shuly Wintner (University of Haifa, IBM Research, Carnegie Mellon University)

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