Can Heritage Speakers Predict Lexical and Morphosyntactic Information in Reading?


Ample evidence suggests that monolingual adults can successfully generate lexical and morphosyntactic predictions in reading and that correct predictions facilitate sentence comprehension. In this eye-tracking corpus reading study, we investigate whether the same is true for reading in heritage language. Specifically, we ask whether heritage speakers (HSs) of Russian are able to anticipate lexical and/or morphosyntactic information of the upcoming words in the sentence and whether they differ in the predictions from monolingual children and L2 learners. We are also interested in whether the literacy level (i.e., Russian literacy experience or reading fluency in English) influences lexical and morphosyntactic prediction. Our results indicate that HSs as well as other groups were able to anticipate the specific lexical item, and the ability was contingent on the Russian literacy experience and reading fluency in dominant English as evident in some of the early and late eye-tracking measures. Similar to children and L2 learners, the word class and the verb number predictability affected reading times in HSs, but HSs were the only group to anticipate the number of the upcoming noun. We discuss findings in respect to the utility account of the bilingual prediction and divergent attainment trajectory of the heritage language development.

Anastasiya Lopukhina
Anastasiya Lopukhina
Postdoctoral Research Fellow

My research interests include individual differences in language processing, early language development, reading, and prediction.